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Top 5 havens from US real estate storm

Tom Meinelt-Jackson Lee/Splash News/Newscom

(Read caption) Brad Pitt's 'Make It Right' project rebuilt this home and many others in New Orleans. Despite (or perhaps because of) hurricane Katrina, the city has escaped most of the real estate debacle. Only 4 percent of its homeowners owe more on their homes than their homes are worth, a new study found.

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New Orleans – the city partially built below sea level – is one of the least "underwater" when it comes to real estate.

Only 3.8 percent of its homeowners owe more on their homes than those homes are worth, according to new survey released Wednesday by Zillow.com, an online real estate marketplace. That's the second-lowest rate of the 160 metropolitan areas surveyed.

Of course, it's easy to buck the trend when a major hurricane wipes out a good portion of your housing, pushes out a third of your people (especially the poor), and causes federal and state governments to pump in millions of dollars in aid.

Low underwater rates

But take a look at the other metro areas that have become havens from the real estate storm: Augusta, Ga., where only 2 percent of homeowners are underwater; Cumberland, Md., (5.0 percent); Corvallis, Ore., (5.3 percent); and Oklahoma City (6.3 percent).

Their numbers would look a little worse if they included just mortgageholders, rather than all homeowners. But they come nowhere near the national average (21.9 percent) or the shocking rate in some cities like Stockton, Calif., (51.1 percent) or Las Vegas (67.2 percent).

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