Homeowners with negative equity should check their credit reports

The housing market has yet to gain its footing in the recovery, as a number of homes continue to see their values drop.

Recent research from analytics firm CoreLogic found that during the fourth quarter of 2010 underwater homes – those that have values less than the amount remaining on the owner's mortgage – increased to 23.1 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage – an increase of more than half a percentage point from the previous quarter.

Declining home values and hefty mortgage obligations have caused many homeowners to go into foreclosure or seek out a short sale.

Some consumers may try to refinance their existing mortgage to make their monthly payments more reasonable; however, an unfair mark on their credit reports may be hampering their credit scores and inhibiting their ability to secure a refinance.

These consumers may want to explore credit repair, as it may allow them to investigate and dispute an errant item on their credit report, which may boost their credit score. A credit lawyer may be a helpful resource during the dispute process because they may have more experience working with creditors and credit bureaus to resolve these types of claims.