ONE in five homeowners in parts of Merseyside are currently in negative equity, the Daily Post can reveal.
Across the region as a whole, one in nine homeowners now owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, according to latest figures.
Six postcode areas in Merseyside appear in a list of the 100 worst hit in the UK.
Liverpool is 30th out of 100 towns and cities for the number of people hit by negative equity.
The average difference between the amount owed and the value of the property of those affected in Liverpool is £6,704.
Paul Lea, who owns a number of estate agents across Merseyside, said the negative equity issue could lead to homeowners handing their keys back to building societies and banks.
Around 20% of homeowners in L24 (Speke), L6 (Everton and Fairfield), L8 (Toxteth and Princes Park), L33 (Kirkby), L20 (Bootle), and CH41 (Birkenhead and Seacombe) are now hit, figures from Fitch Ratings reveal.
Economist Peter Stoney said the situation was a symptom of the poor state of the property market, while Liverpool Council deputy leader Flo Clucas said she had every sympathy with those caught in the negative equity trap.
Last month, it was revealed some areas, including Everton and Fairfield, had lost 28% of their value in the nine months to March.
Between January and March, only 981 homes in the L postcode were sold which covers Liverpool, most of Sefton, and West Lancs.
It marked a huge decrease of 61% from just nine months ago, when 2,519 were sold between last April and June.
And in the CH postcode, which covers Wirral and Chester, sales have fallen by 56.5% since June 2008.
Mr Lea estimates that property prices have fallen by 22% across Merseyside since the peak of the market in autumn 2007.