One in four of mortgaged homes in U.S. ‘equity-rich’

According to Attom Data Solutions’ latest Home Equity & Underwater Report, 14.5 million residential properties in the United States were “equity-rich” in the fourth quarter of 2019.

A property is considered equity-rich if the estimated amount of loans secured by that property is 50% of less of its estimated market value. In the fourth quarter, 26.7% of the 54.5 million mortgaged homes nationwide fit that description, unchanged from the quarter prior.

Just 3.5 million properties, on the other hand, were considered to be seriously underwater, with a combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property at least 25% more than the property’s market value. That’s 6.4% of all mortgaged properties in the U.S., a slight retreat from 6.5% in the third quarter.

Put another way, American homeowners are four times more likely to be equity-rich than seriously underwater. Per Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom, homeownership continues to function as a high-efficiency wealth builder.

“Homeownership continued boosting household balance sheets across the United States in the fourth quarter of 2019, as people paying off mortgages were much more likely to be in equity-rich territory than seriously underwater,” said Teta. “That marked yet another sign of how much the country has benefited from an eight-year housing-market boom.

“Some big gaps in equity levels persist between regions and market segments. But as home values keep climbing, financial resources keep building for homeowners, which provides them with leverage to make home repairs, help their children through college or take on other major expenses.”

States high in equity-rich supply dot the West and Northeast, with California (42.8% equity-rich), Vermont (39.2%), Hawaii (38.8%), Washington (35.4%) and New York leading the way. The four metros leading the country in equity-rich share are all in California: San Jose (65.9%), San Francisco (57.5%), Los Angeles (47.8%) and Santa Rosa (57.5%).


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