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Report: Americans are increasingly equity rich

All those years of paying down mortgages after the recession has paid off for homeowners, new tracking data suggests.

houseafford(1)As of the end of September, nearly 14.5 million property owners had built at least a 50 percent equity stake in their homes, and thereby could rightly call themselves “equity rich,” according to Attom Data Solutions.

“As homeowners stay put longer, they continue to build more equity in their homes despite the recent slowing in rates of home-price appreciation,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with Attom Data Solutions.

The number of equity rich properties rose as of the third quarter by more than 433,000 from a year ago, and the numbers were the highest since tracking began in 2013, Attom said. Equity rich properties represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage. 

Homeowners in expensive markets with a lot of price growth, such as California, Hawaii and Washington state, have the highest share. 

California was tops among states, where 42.5 percent of mortgaged properties were valued at least 50 percent more than their mortgage balances, Attom said. Hawaii (39 percent); Washington (35 percent); New York (35 percent); and Oregon (34 percent) also had high shares of equity-rich properties.

As far as cities, three California metros topped the list of the leading 98 metropolitan statistical areas. San Jose was No. 1, with a 74 percent share of equity-rich properties; followed by San Francisco (60 percent); and Los Angeles (48 percent). Seattle (41 percent) and Honolulu (41 percent) rounded out the top five.

Not all homeowners were doing so well, however. Despite the strong economy and price growth, 4.9 million property owners remained seriously underwater, where the mortgaged amount exceeds the value of the home by 25 percent, Attom reported.

This represented an 8.8 percent share of all mortgaged properties, down from 9.3 percent in the previous quarter but up from 8.7 percent a year earlier. Attom said markets in the Mississippi Valley and the Rust Belt tended to have higher shares of seriously underwater properties. 


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