Increasing home prices are making many homeowners a wealthier bunch.

So-called “equity-rich” properties comprised about one in four, or 25.7 percent, of U.S. properties in the third quarter, according to real estate research firm ATTOM Data Solutions. The roughly 14.5 million equity-rich homes is a record high for the U.S., said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM.

Home equity is the difference between your property value and your existing loans. For example, if your home is worth $500,000 today and your mortgage balance is $250,000, you have $250,000 in equity. Equity-rich is the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property is 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value.

“As homeowners stay put longer, they continue to build more equity in their homes despite the recent slowing in rates of home price appreciation,” Blomquist said. “West coast markets along with New York have the highest share of   homeowners while markets in the Mississippi Valley and Rust Belt continue to have stubbornly high rates of seriously underwater homeowners when it comes to home equity.”

As the number of equity-rich properties increased, the amount of U.S. properties that were “seriously underwater” declined, according to ATTOM data. Seriously underwater is where the combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property was at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value.

More than 4.9 million U.S. properties were seriously underwater, comprising 8.8 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage. That share of seriously underwater homes was down from 9.3 percent in the second quarter but still up from 8.7 percent in the third quarter of 2017.

States with the highest share of seriously underwater properties were Louisiana at 21.3 percent; Mississippi at 16.2 percent and Iowa at 15.5 percent.

States with the highest share of equity-rich properties were California at 42.5 percent, Hawaii at 39.4 percent and Washington at 35.3 percent.

Here are the metros that had the highest share of equity-rich properties between July and September:

  • San Jose, Calif.: 73.9%
  • San Francisco: 59.8%
  • Los Angeles: 47.6%
  • Seattle: 41.2%
  • Honolulu: 40.8%

Below is an interactive map showing equity-rich properties by zip code in the third quarter of 2018.

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  • Bobby Burch

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