In the first quarter of 2016, 268,000 homeowners regained equity, pushing the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity to 92%, according to new data from CoreLogic, a property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider.
Compared to last year, nationwide, home equity increased by $762 billion in the first quarter.
Homes that are still underwater came in at 4 million, or 8% of the market by the end of the first quarter. This is a decrease of 6.2% from last quarter’s 4.3 million, or 8.5% of the market. On a yearly basis, negative equity homes decreased 21.5% from 5.1 million homes, or 10.3% of the market.
Negative equity, also called underwater or upside down, means borrowers owe more on their mortgage than what their homes are worth. This can be due to a decline in home value, an increase in mortgage debt or both.
“More than 1 million homeowners have escaped the negative equity trap over the past year,” CoreLogic president and CEO Anand Nallathambi said. “We expect this positive trend to continue over the balance of 2016 and into next year as home prices continue to rise.”
“Nationally, the CoreLogic Home Price Index was up 5.5% year over year through the first quarter,” Nallathambi said. “If home values rise another 5% uniformly across the U.S., the number of underwater borrowers will fall by another one million during the next year.”
The rise in homes with positive equity is partially due to consistent increases home prices. Recently, S&P Dow Jones Indices released its results for the Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices which showed an annual increase of 5.4% in January 2016 for national home prices.
The amount of negative equity fell 3.8% from $311.3 billion at the end of last quarter to $299.5 at the end of the first quarter this year. It decreased 11.8% from $340 billion last year.
Some borrowers are “under-equitied,” meaning they are at risk of moving into negative equity if home prices decrease. These homeowners could have difficulty refinancing or getting a new loan to sell their home and buy a new one. Of the over 50 million homes with a mortgage, about 9.1 million, or 18% have less than 20% equity, and about 1.1 million, or 2.2%, have less than 5% equity.
“In just the last four years, equity for homeowners with a mortgage has nearly doubled to $6.9 trillion,” CoreLogic chief economist Frank Nothaft said.
“The rapid increase in home equity reflects the improvement in home prices, dwindling distressed borrowers and increased principal repayment,” Nothaft said. “These are all positive factors that will provide support to both household balance sheets and the overall economy.”
This map shows the percentage of negative equity by state.
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