Homeowners should have felt richer in 2018. Equity rich properties comprised 25.6 percent of U.S. properties with a mortgage in 2018, according to a newly released report from ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate research firm.
In the fourth quarter, more than 14.5 million U.S. properties were considered equity rich, where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value. That represents a new high in ATTOM Data’s records dating back to the fourth quarter of 2013.
The metro areas with the highest share of equity rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2018 were San Jose, Calif. (72 percent); San Francisco (60.7 percent); Los Angeles (48.5 percent); Honolulu (40.2 percent); and Oxnard, Calif. (39.2 percent).
“With homeowners staying put longer, homeownership equity will most likely continue to strengthen,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “Those that are seriously underwater may find themselves coming up for air as they continue to pay off excessive legacy mortgages or sell. This report helps to showcase a story of West Coast markets having the highest share of equity rich homeowners versus the South and Midwest markets, who continue to have stubbornly high rates of seriously underwater homeowners.”
The report showed that more than 5 million—or 8.8 percent—of U.S. properties with a mortgage remained seriously underwater in 2018. “Seriously underwater” is when the combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property is at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value. The metro areas with the highest share of mortgages seriously underwater included Baton Rouge, La. (20.7 percent); Youngstown, Ohio (19 percent); New Orleans (10 percent); Toledo, Ohio (18 percent); and Scranton, Pa. (17.7 percent).