As real estate’s peak selling season nears, one element that characterizes the strength of the U.S. housing market is the one that CNN Business highlighted last Thursday. For a growing number of homeowners in the northeast whose properties align with the national data, it came as a pleasant piece of news.
The subject was homeowner equity—a key element in the financial standing of those who own their residences. Real estate analysts at Attom Data Solutions took a look at homeowner balances owed in relation to their property’s market value. By definition, homeowners qualify as “equity rich” when they have at least 50% equity—that is, when their equity percentage matches or exceeds the lender’s share.
Attom’s findings were impressive: as of the last quarter of 2021, close to half of all mortgage payers—a full 42%—have moved into “equity rich” territory. The advance has been rapid. Only a year earlier, the percentage had been less than a third: 30%. The rapid price gains have shifted residential equity’s center of gravity in favor of more and more homeowners.
For those who gauge the overall stability of the market, another characteristic was reassuring. Loans are considered “seriously underwater” when an owner owes 25% or more above what their home is worth. When homeowners are in that situation, foreclosure becomes more likely—with market-roiling repercussions. In today’s market, those storm clouds are simply not in evidence: Attom reports only 3.1% of loans are seriously underwater—down from 5.4% a year ago.
CNN Business’ national news spotlighted one bracing factor that many mortgage-paying homeowners in and across Virginia have probably been noting. As their monthly home loan statements show steadily decreasing balance owed figures at the same time their property’s market value mounts, the result is gratifying—CNN Business’ “equity rich” label is nice to hear.