Senior-held home equity rises in Q3 to over $13 trillion

The latest NRMLA/RiskSpan data shows another consecutive rise in senior-held equity after falling earlier this year

Senior-held home equity rose for the second consecutive quarter in Q3 2023, after reductions observed in Q4 2022 and Q1 2023.

Senior housing wealth grew by an estimated $178.4 billion in Q3 to a record of $13.08 trillion according to the Reverse Mortgage Market Index (RMMI), the latest such release from the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) and data analytics firm RiskSpan.

The RMMI increased in Q3 to 457.36 from 444.16 in Q2, the highest level the index has ever reached since it began publication in the year 2000, NRMLA said in an update to members distributed on Thursday.

Once more, home price appreciation fueled the rise in senior-held equity levels. Seniors’ home values grew to a record high of $15.3 trillion, but were offset by an estimated $2.3 trillion in senior-held mortgage debt.

In a statement accompanying the data in an alert to association members, NRMLA President Steve Irwin cited recent data indicating the challenges that will face seniors’ housing and retirement in the years to come.

Nearly a third of the senior cohort spends as much as 30% of their income on housing costs, qualifying them as “cost-burdened” according to data from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University.

“[JCHS] forecasted that the United States is ill-prepared to provide adequate housing and supportive services to the 17 million households that will be headed by a person aged 80 and over by the year 2040,” Irwin said.

“That same report noted that homeowners who leveraged their home equity may be better prepared to cover the costs of care to help them age in place,” he added.

The RMMI increased precipitously between 2011 and 2021. When it endured a decline in 2011, the collective figure sat at roughly $3 trillion while in Q3 2021, the RMMI index rose by four percent, topping $10 trillion for the first time. The index grew by 3.98% in Q4 2021 and 4.91% during Q1 2022 — when it first topped $11 trillion. In Q2 2022, the RMMI grew by 4.10% to $11.5 trillion.

After starting 2023 with a reduction, the RMMI quickly settled into a pattern of increases once more in Q2 2023.

The collective senior housing wealth figure reached a threshold of over $9 trillion for the first time in July 2021, and $8 trillion for the first time in April 2021. It had previously topped $7 trillion for the first time in March 2019.

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