Housing MarketMortgage

Homeowners sitting on a pile of cash with $17T in home equity: CoreLogic

There are now only 1 million homes underwater in the U.S.

Home equity continued to rise in the first quarter of 2024 as residential properties with mortgages collectively gained $1.5 trillion in equity over the past year, according to a CoreLogic report released Friday.

The average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage added $28,000 in equity during the year ending in March 2024 — the highest year-over-year increase since late 2022. Three states — California (+$64,000), Massachusetts (+$61,000) and New Jersey (+$59,000) — saw increases that were more than double the national average.

The $1.5 trillion gain in U.S. home equity over the past year brought total net equity to more than $17 trillion at the end of Q1 2024. Mortgaged properties account for 62% of all residential homes in the U.S., according to CoreLogic.

“With home prices continuing to reach new highs, owners are also seeing their equity approach the historic peaks of 2023, close to a total of $305,000 per owner,” Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic, said in a statement. “Importantly, higher prices have also lifted some 190,000 homeowners out of negative equity, leaving only about 1.8% of those with mortgages underwater.”

Negative equity, also known as an underwater or upside-down mortgage, involves borrowers whose outstanding mortgage debt exceeds the value of their home. On a quarterly basis, negative equity decreased by 2.1% in Q1 2024 and now represents 1 million homes nationwide.

The analysis also noted that the level of underwater mortgages at a given time can change quickly due to changes in home prices. For example, when looking at the level of mortgage debt in Q1 2024, there are 111,000 homes that would move back into a positive equity position if home values rose by at least 5%. Conversely, 153,000 homes would fall underwater if values declined by 5% or more.

“Home equity is key to mortgage holders who have seen other homeownership costs soar, including insurance, taxes and HOA fees, as a source of financial buffer,” Hepp said.

“Also, low amounts of negative equity are welcomed in markets that have shown price weaknesses this spring, such as Florida (1.1% of homes underwater) and Texas (1.7% of homes underwater) — both of which are below the national rate — as further price declines could drive more homeowners to lose their equity.”

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