Last week the San Francisco Chronicle’s Caroline Said reported some extraordinarily hopeful numbers courtesy of Zillow: After peaking at 355,879 in March 2012, the number of Bay Area homeowners underwater on their mortgages plummeted to 205,819 homes a little more than a year later, in June 2013. That cut the percentage of Bay Area homeowners underwater on their mortgages to 18 percent, from a high of 31.2 percent.
The fall in underwater homes comes mostly from rising home values, though it stems partly from transfers such as foreclosures or short sales, Said reports. The Bay is well ahead of the national figure, which has 23.8 percent of mortgaged homes underwater. And while those numbers are still serious, this is a trend in the right direction.
Probably because I am a 10-year-old boy, as I read through Said’s article with its repeated references to underwater homes and homeowners, I found my imagination drifting: I envisioned fish drifting by the coral-flecked walls of a submerged Eichler whose skylights served as portals for divers. And before I could finish the piece, I found myself searching for “undersea homes” instead of underwater ones. They are rare, to be sure, but such things exist!
In 1962, Jacques Cousteau initiated a series of three underwater settlements, called Conshelf I, II, and III. He set out to determine whether humans could live underwater for extended periods of time, and found that they could, but not healthily. “Even though they have the physical and psychological capabilities, humans are not made to exist in a world without sun,” the Cousteau Society’s website explains.
Conshelf II remains on the floor of the Red Sea:
But the real estate analogy would be to single-family homes, and those aren’t really a thing yet. For the right price, though, they could be. U.S. Submarines, inc., which is currently buildingthe underwater Poseidon Hotel, in Fiji, offers on its website something it calls the H2ome, which it bills as a single-family undersea dwelling. The interactive, animated walkthroughis worth a click, even if this only exists in the realm of imagination so far.
With a bit of good fortune, eventually the only homes that are underwater will literally be the ones literally under the sea!