As home prices rise, fewer and fewer homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, according to a report released Thursday morning by Zillow.

The number of homeowners with mortgages nationwide who have negative equity fell to 30.9 percent in the second quarter, down from 31.4 percent in the first quarter. In the Washington metro area, the number of underwater homeowners dropped to 31.3 percent from 32.4 percent.  

Zillow partnered with credit bureau TransUnion to ascertain the mortgage balances on homes then paired that information with estimates of the home’s values to determine how many homeowners are underwater.

In the Washington metro area, 352,831 homes had negative equity in the second quarter, down from 365,199 in the first quarter. The cumulative amount of negative equity in the region is $41.7 billion.

More than a third of those who have negative equity in the metro area are underwater by 20 percent or less.  

“It’s encouraging that those 36 percent of homeowners are in relatively shallow water,” Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries said. “It is reasonable with some decent home price appreciation they will start to resurface in a relatively short period of time. . . .We’re forecasting over the next 12 months for home values to rise in the metro at 2 percent, a little bit more than they have the past year.”

Prince George’s County, which suffered the brunt of the housing recession, has the greatest breadth and depth of negative equity, with 99,607 homes in negative equity or 59.6 percent of homes in the county with a mortgage are underwater. One in five homeowners with negative equity, or 20 percent of the underwater homes in the county, owe more than twice their home’s value.

The news is much better in Falls Church where 50 percent of homeowners with negative equity are less than 20 percent underwater.  

Young people appear excessively affected by negative equity. Nearly half of all borrowers nationally younger than 40 are underwater. However, they are less likely to be delinquent on their mortgages.

“Rising home values in the second quarter caused a decline in the number of underwater borrowers, but young homeowners continue to be disproportionately affected by negative equity,” Humphries said. “We hear about tight inventory in many markets, and it’s clear where this is coming from. Negative equity is trapping young people in their homes, preventing them from selling. These homes are likely the very starter homes potential first-time homebuyers are seeking.”