Home equity gains bring negative equity down another notch

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As home value appreciation keeps churning, the share of those upside down on their mortgage grows smaller than ever, according to CoreLogic's Home Equity Report.

Homeowners with mortgages — a group constituting about 64% of all properties — saw their equity increase 5.1% year-over-year in the third quarter, gaining a total of $457 billion across the country. The average homeowner gained $5,300 worth of annual equity from the third quarter of 2018.

Home equity grew in 44 of the 50 states, but those in the Mountain West increased the most. Idaho led all states, with its homeowners gaining an average of $25,809 in equity. Wyoming and Utah joined as the only other states with gains above $20,000, as homeowners increased their equity by an average of $23,975 and $21,043, respectively.

The continual growth of housing prices helped push up equity and lowered the percentage underwater. North Dakota was the only state with equity depreciation at -$913, while Maine, Mississippi, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia had insufficient data.

"The negative equity share continues to decline thanks to rising home prices across the nation," Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said in a press release. "According to the latest HPI report, home prices increased an average of 3.5% year over year in October 2019. Out of all 50 states, homeowners in Idaho experienced the largest annual home price increase at 10.9%, while they also gained the most home equity, averaging $25,800."

Negative equity — those underwater, owing more on their loans than the value of their home — declined 10% year-over-year in the third quarter to 2 million homes from 2.2 million, or 3.7% of properties with mortgages. Negative equity dropped 4% from the prior quarter. Negative equity peaked in the fourth quarter of 2009 at 26% of all mortgaged properties.

"Ten years ago, during the depths of the Great Recession, more than 11 million homeowners had negative equity or 25% of mortgaged homes," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, "After more than eight years of rising home prices and employment growth, underwater owners have been slashed to just 2 million, or less than 4% of mortgaged homes."

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Appraisals Home prices Housing market RMBS Home equity loans CoreLogic