A problem that continued to plague the real estate industry during the first quarter of 2017 is a large number of properties in the U.S. that are seriously “under water.”

According to information from ATTOM Data Solutions are described as underwater, an increase from the last quarter of 2016. For agents that like to see a glass that is half full, that figure is still off by more than 1.2 million from the first quarter of last year.

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, a seriously underwater property is a property where the loan amount is at least 25 percent higher than the estimated market value.

The company claims that these types of properties account for 9.7 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage in the first quarter.

Source: Attom Data Solutions

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, explained in a statement that negative equity largely decreasing nationwide, there are large pockets of the country where underwater property is virtually a normal occurrence.

According to Blomquist, the region with the greatest number of upside-down properties is in the Rust Belt, along with Las Vegas.

“While negative equity continued to trend steadily downward in the first quarter, it remains stubbornly high in often-overlooked pockets of the housing market,” Blomquist said. “For example, we continue to see one in five properties seriously underwater in several Rust Belt cities, along with Las Vegas and central Florida. Additionally, close to one third of homes valued below $100,000 are still seriously underwater.”

Barry Davis of SunTrust Mortgage, who also is president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia’s Augusta chapter, said that area’s real estate market remains healthy because it didn’t experience the market distortions seen in other parts of the country during the housing bubble.

“We were pretty insulated from a lot of that,” he said. States with the highest share of seriously underwater properties as of the end of the first quarter included Nevada (18.9 percent); Ohio (17.1 percent); Illinois (16.5 percent); Louisiana (16.4 percent); and Missouri (14.5 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum, Texas has the lowest rate of negative equity, at 1.6 percent.

Diminished property values are a main reason homeowners find themselves submerged. The figures also indicate that the housing recovery continues to disproportionately elude the states with the highest shares of underwater properties.

The data also suggests crisis levels of residents stuck in homes that have become debt traps. The properties also can impact surrounding home values.

Cities with the largest quarterly increases in underwater homes were Baltimore (up 26,974); Philadelphia (up 8,919); McAllen, Texas (up 7,746); Cleveland (up 7,631) and St. Louis (up 6,844).

Other cities registering a quarterly increase in underwater properties included Columbus, Ohio; New York; Milwaukee; Baton Rouge, La.; and Cincinnati.

“Several of the cities with the biggest quarterly increases in underwater properties saw a corresponding increase in share of distressed sales in the first quarter, creating a drag on overall home values,” according to Blomquist.

For those who bought their homes during the peak of the last real estate boom, however, it could be at least another two years before those properties are no longer underwater, he added.