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Freddie Mac: Homeowners rack up record amounts of equity

And home prices expected to keep rising

Home prices have continued to surge since the last recession, leaving homeowners with record amounts of home equity, according to Freddie Mac’s monthly Outlook for March.

Home prices increased 37% since 2009, and 7% since last year, Freddie Mac pointed out in its report. Homeowner equity increased to about $14.4 trillion in the fourth quarter, and homeowners with mortgages hold nearly $5.4 trillion collectively in equity available to borrow against, according to Black Knight data and analytics.

Freddie Mac explained increasing home prices are helping many current homeowners build equity, while making it more difficult for many first-time homebuyers to achieve homeownership.

Mortgage rates remain historically low, however they have been steadily climbing since the start of 2018, the report said. Freddie Mac forecasts that growth will continue, pushing the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.9% by the fourth quarter of 2018.

“Overall, U.S. housing markets have been on the upswing,” said Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist. “While housing market trends have been generally favorable, not everyone has shared equally in the gains.”

“Existing homeowners have largely seen their properties increase in value, helping to build equity,” Kiefer said. “In many parts of the country, home values have more than recovered from the Great Recession, reaching new nominal peaks, and the share of underwater homeowners has dropped significantly.”

The company explained that with construction slowly increasing to meet housing demand, home prices are likely to continue rising above the rate of inflation. Freddie Mac forecasted an increase of 5.1% in home prices in 2018.

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