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Number of equity-rich properties at record high

A Thursday report from real estate data firm ATTOM Data Solutions revealed that over 14.5 million U.S. properties were rich with equity in the fourth quarter of 2018.


Equity-rich properties, which ATTOM defines as having secured loans at 50 percent or less of the property’s market value, are up by more than 834,000 from a year ago. That represents a record high in terms of the number of equity rich properties since ATTOM began keeping track of the metric in 2013’s fourth quarter.

Overall, 25.6 percent of all properties with a mortgage were equity-rich. That’s down slightly from 25.7 in the preceding quarter, but up from 25.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“With homeowners staying put longer, homeownership equity will most likely continue to strengthen. Those that are seriously underwater may find themselves coming up for air as they continue to pay off excessive legacy mortgages or sell,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions.

“This report helps to showcase a story of the West Coast markets having the highest share of equity rich homeowners versus the South and Midwest markets, who continue to have stubbornly high rates of seriously underwater homeowners.”

The gulf is notable: West Coast states California (43.6 percent), Hawaii (39.3 percent), Washington (34.2 percent) and Oregon (32.9 percent) were four of the top five states with the highest share of equity-rich properties, with New York (34.2 percent) crashing the Pacific Time Zone party. On the flipside, states with the highest share of mortgages that were seriously underwater — where the combined estimated balance of loans secured by a property was at least 25 percent higher than its estimated market value — included Louisiana (20.8 percent), Mississippi (16.9 percent), Arkansas (15.9 percent), Illinois (15.6 percent), Iowa (15.2 percent).

Across the U.S., more than 5 million properties were seriously underwater. Approximately 8.8 percent of U.S. properties fall under the category, remaining unchanged from 2018’s third quarter and down from 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.


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