CoreLogic: Equity gains continue in Q3 2017

The share of homes in the United States with negative equity continued to dwindle in the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest analysis by the real estate data company CoreLogic.

In its "Homeowner Equity Insights" report, CoreLogic determined that homeowners with a mortgage—representing about 63 percent of all U.S. homeowners—gained a cumulative total of $870.6 billion in equity during the quarter, the largest jump in more than three years. This marked a year-over-year increase of 11.8 percent.

"This increase is primarily a reflection of rising home prices, which drives up home values, leading to an increase in home equity positions and supporting consumer spending," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic.

As part of this increase in value, an estimated 700,000 mortgaged properties were lifted out of negative equity. In this situation, the sum of the loans secured by the home are greater than the fair market value of the property. Negative equity can be a result of declining home values, increased mortgage debt, or a combination of both.

CoreLogic determined that 2.5 million homes, or 4.9 percent of all mortgaged residences in the U.S., still had negative equity in the third quarter of 2017. This was down 22 percent from the third quarter of 2016, when 3.2 million homes had negative equity and accounted for 6.3 percent of all mortgaged residences. In the second quarter of 2017, an estimated 2.8 million homes—5.4 percent of all mortgaged residences—had negative equity.

The aggregate value of negative equity in the U.S. during the quarter stood at approximately $275.7 billion. This was down 3.2 percent—$9.1 billion—from the previous quarter and 3.3 percent, or $9.5 billion, from the previous year.

Texas and Utah had the lowest negative equity shares, with only 1.5 percent of mortgaged homeowners in these states owing more on their mortgage than their home was worth. The negative equity share was 1.6 percent in Oregon and Washington, and 1.7 percent in Alaska, Colorado, and Hawaii.

Louisiana had the highest negative equity share, with more than one in 10 mortgaged homes—10.1 percent—worth less than their outstanding loans. Other states with a high negative equity share included Florida (9 percent), Nevada (8.9 percent), Illinois (8.7 percent), and Connecticut (8.3 percent).

"While homeowner equity is rising nationally, there are wide disparities by geography," said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Hot markets like San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver boast very high levels of increased home equity. However, some markets are lagging behind due to weaker economies or lingering effects from the Great Recession. These include large markets such as Miami, Las Vegas, and Chicago, but also many small- and medium-sized markets such as Scranton, Pa. and Akron, Ohio."

The negative equity share stood at 13.4 percent in Miami. It was 10.3 percent in Las Vegas and 9.9 percent in Chicago during the third quarter of 2017.

The average homeowner saw a year-over-year increase of $14,900 in equity in their property. This was primarily driven by large equity increases in the West. The average homeowner in Hawaii saw a year-over-year gain of $45,000, followed by $40,000 in Washington and $37,000 in California.

CoreLogic logged data from 45 states and noted that none had a decrease in equity for the average property. However, 23 had equity increases of less than $10,000 and Louisiana property values were essentially unchanged from the third quarter of 2016. Arizona, Connecticut, and Oklahoma all had average year-over-year equity gains of $3,000.

The quarterly reports from CoreLogic on home equity compare estimated values to the outstanding debt on mortgaged properties. CoreLogic uses a database with information on more than 50 million mortgaged residences, which it says represent more than 95 percent of all homes with a mortgage.

ATTOM Data Solutions, which also issues quarterly reports on equity in the U.S., has also noted a reduction of negative equity in recent years. However, the company consistently records a higher negative equity share than CoreLogic.

In its report for the third quarter of 2017, ATTOM Data Solutions determined that 4.6 million mortgaged homes were "seriously underwater," with negative equity at least 25 percent higher than the property's estimated market value. The report says this share accounts for 8.7 percent of all mortgaged properties in the U.S.

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