Equity-Rich Properties Hit Tipping Point

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IRVINE, Calif. – May 4, 2018 – The number of equity-rich properties in the U.S. may have reached a tipping point, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ First Quarter 2018 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report: They’re down from their peak in the second quarter in a year-to-year comparison. ATTOM defines “equity rich” as borrowers who have at least 50 percent equity in their property.

“We’ve reached a tipping point in this housing boom where enough homeowners have regained both sufficient equity and sufficient confidence to tap into their home equity – resulting in a noticeably slower decline in seriously underwater properties and slower growth in equity rich properties,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.

“This tapping of equity could take the form of a cash-out refinance, home equity loan or simply a home sale,” Blomquist says. “We saw the biggest quarterly drop in average homeownership tenure for homeowners who sold in the first quarter since Q4 2008 – evidence that more homeowners are reaching that equity-tapping tipping point more quickly and deciding to sell.”

The number of properties with 20- to 50-percent equity dropped by 1.7 million compared to a year ago, the report shows. More than 19.5 million U.S. properties had between 20- and 50-percent equity at the end of the first quarter, which is down 8 percent from a year ago.

Still, one in four properties with a mortgage (13.8 million) were considered equity rich by the end of the first quarter. That’s up by more than 122,000 from a year ago, but down from a peak of more than 14 million equity-rich properties in the second quarter of 2017.

The highest share of equity-rich homes is in Hawaii (41.6 percent), California (41.5 percent), New York (34.8 percent), Washington (33.1 percent) and Oregon (31.8 percent).

On a metro level (with cities that have populations of at least 500,000), those with the highest share of equity-rich homes are: San Jose, Calif. (66.1 percent); San Francisco (56 percent); Los Angeles (45.4 percent); Honolulu (43.1 percent); and Seattle. (39.1 percent).

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