Nearly Half of U.S. Mortgages Considered Equity-Rich; Seriously Underwater Portion of Mortgages Holds at 3 Percent; Ratio of Equity-Rich to Seriously Underwater Properties Now at 14 to 1
IRVINE, Calif. — May 12, 2022 — ATTOM, a leading curator of real estate data nationwide for land and property data, today released its first-quarter 2022 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which shows that 44.9 percent of mortgaged residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich in the first quarter, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loan balances secured by those properties was no more than 50 percent of their homes estimated market values.
The portion of mortgaged homes that were equity-rich in the first quarter of 2022 inched close to half, up from 41.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 and from 31.9 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
“Homeowners continue to benefit from rising home prices,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence for ATTOM. “Record levels of home equity provide financial security for millions of families, and minimize the chance of another housing market crash like the one we saw in 2008. But these higher home prices and rising interest rates make it extremely challenging for first time buyers to enter the market.”
The report shows that just 3.2 percent of mortgaged homes, or one in 31, were considered seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2022, with a combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property of at least 25 percent more than the property’s estimated market value. That was virtually the same as the 3.1 percent level of all U.S. homes with a mortgage in the prior quarter, but still well down from 4.7 percent, or one in 21 properties, a year earlier.
Across the country, 45 states saw equity-rich levels increase from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 while seriously underwater percentages increased in 28 states, albeit by less than one percent in most cases. Year over year, equity-rich levels rose in 48 states and seriously underwater portions dropped in 46 states.
These latest equity trends came as the decade-long U.S. housing market boom continued from late 2021 into early 2022, although at a slower pace. Nationwide, the median home price rose 2 percent during that time, to yet another record of $320,500. That left it 17 percent ahead year over year nationally and up by at least 10 percent in most of the country.
While market analysts generally are predicting a slowdown this year, the most recent gains happened as a glut of home buyers kept chasing a historically tight supply of properties for sale, kicking prices up even higher. The market remained strong amid an ongoing combination of rock-bottom mortgage rates and a desire of many households to trade life in congested virus-prone locales for the wider spaces afforded by a house and yard.
Homeowner equity improved again in the first quarter of 2022 as rising home prices widened gaps between what homeowners owed on their mortgages and the value of their properties.
“It’s likely that equity will continue to grow through the rest of 2022, although home price increases should moderate as the year goes on,” Sharga said. “Rising interest rates, the highest inflation in 40 years, and the ongoing supply chain disruptions due to the war in Ukraine are likely to weaken demand and slow down home price appreciation.”
Biggest improvements in equity-rich share of mortgages in West and South
The 15 states where the equity-rich share of mortgaged homes rose most from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 were all in the western and southern regions of the U.S. States, with the biggest increases in New Mexico, where the portion of mortgaged homes considered equity-rich rose from 35.3 percent in the fourth quarter to 43.4 percent in the first quarter of 2022; Florida (up from 46.6 percent to 53.6 percent), California (up from 53.7 percent to 60.5 percent), South Carolina (up from 35 percent to 41.2 percent) and Montana (up from 40.5 percent to 45.7 percent).
States where the equity-rich share of mortgaged homes decreased from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year were South Dakota (down from 36 percent to 32.3 percent), Mississippi (down from 26.3 percent to 23.5 percent), Louisiana (down from 22.5 percent to 21.6 percent), North Dakota (down from 29.3 percent to 28.6 percent) and Pennsylvania (down from 35.49 percent to 35.46 percent).
Largest increases in seriously underwater properties across South and Midwest
Twelve of the 15 states with the biggest increases in the percentage of mortgaged homes considered seriously underwater from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 were spread across the South and Midwest. They were led by Mississippi (share of mortgaged homes seriously underwater up from 12.2 percent to 17 percent), Missouri (up from 5.1 percent to 6.6 percent), Louisiana (up from 10 percent to 11.3 percent), Pennsylvania (up from 4.2 percent to 5.2 percent) and Delaware (up from 3.7 percent to 4.5 percent).
States where the percentage of seriously underwater homes declined the most from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year were Wyoming (down from 14.3 percent to 10 percent), Maine (down from 4.4 percent to 3.1 percent), Oklahoma (down from 5.5 percent to 4.8 percent), Alabama (down from 5.1 percent to 4.6 percent) and Montana (down from 3.4 percent to 3 percent).
West still with largest shares of equity-rich homes; Midwest and South again have smallest
The highest levels of equity-rich properties around the U.S. remained in the West during the first quarter of 2022, with eight of the top 10 states located in that region. They were led by Idaho (68.8 percent of mortgaged homes were equity-rich), Vermont (68 percent), Utah (63.6 percent), Washington (60.9 percent) and Arizona (60.9 percent).
Twelve of the 15 states with the lowest percentages of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2022 were in the Midwest and South. The smallest portions were in Louisiana (21.6 percent of mortgaged homes), Mississippi (23.5 percent), Illinois (23.5 percent), Alaska (25.2 percent) and Wyoming (26.1 percent).
Among 107 metropolitan statistical areas around the nation with a population greater than 500,000, the 30 with the highest shares of mortgaged properties that were equity-rich in the first quarter of 2022 were in the West and South. The top five were San Jose, CA (74.4 percent equity-rich); Austin, TX (73.8 percent); Boise, ID (70 percent); San Francisco, CA (68.1 percent) and Salt Lake City, UT (65.2 percent). While Austin again led the South and San Jose led the West, the leader in the Northeast region was Portland, ME (52.1 percent) and the top metro in the Midwest continued to be Grand Rapids, MI (49.1 percent).
Seventeen of the 20 metro areas with the lowest percentages of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2022 were in the Midwest and South. The smallest levels were in Baton Rouge, LA (18.1 percent of mortgage homes were equity-rich); Wichita, KS (19.6 percent); Jackson, MS (22.6 percent); Little Rock, AR (23.5 percent) and Chicago, IL (24.6 percent).
The portion of mortgaged homes considered equity rich rose from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 in 103 of 106 metro areas with sufficient data in both time periods (97 percent) while the level rose annually in 105, or 99 percent.
West still has top equity-rich counties
Among 1,617 counties that had at least 2,500 homes with mortgages in the first quarter of 2022, 37 of the top 50 equity-rich locations were in the West.
Counties with the highest share of equity-rich properties were Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard), MA (81.1 percent equity-rich); Teton County (Jackson), WY (78.7 percent); San Mateo County, CA (outside San Francisco) (77.4 percent); Chittenden County (Burlington), VT (77.1 percent) and Nantucket County, MA (76.6 percent).
Counties with the smallest share were Vernon Parish, LA (northwest of Lafayette) (7.2 percent equity-rich); Otero County, NM (outside El Paso, TX) (7.7 percent); Geary County (Junction City), KS (7.9 percent); Cumberland County (Fayetteville), NC (9.5 percent equity-rich) and Boone County (Columbia), MO (10 percent).
At least half of all properties considered equity-rich in a third of zip codes
Among 8,705 U.S. zip codes that had at least 2,000 residential properties with mortgages in the first quarter of 2022, there were 3,247 (37 percent) where at least half the mortgaged properties were equity-rich.
Forty-one of the top 50 were in California and Texas, with 12 of the top 25 in Austin, TX. They were led by zip codes 78739 in Austin, TX (84.5 percent of mortgaged properties were equity-rich); 78733 in Austin, TX (84.5 percent); 78617 in Del Valle, TX (83.6 percent); 94703 in San Francisco, CA (83.6 percent) and 94116 in San Francisco, CA (83.4 percent).
Largest shares of seriously underwater properties again in South and Midwest
Nine of the 10 states with the highest shares of mortgages that were seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2022 were in the South and Midwest. The top five were Mississippi (17 percent seriously underwater), Louisiana (11.3 percent), Wyoming (10 percent), Iowa (7.4 percent) and Illinois (7.2 percent).
Among 107 metropolitan statistical areas with a population greater than 500,000, those with the largest shares of mortgages that were seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2022 were Baton Rouge, LA (11.3 percent); Wichita, KS (8.6 percent); New Orleans, LA (8 percent); Jackson, MS (6.9 percent) and Youngstown, OH (6.8 percent).
Despite the slight quarterly increase in the level of seriously underwater mortgages nationwide, the portion actually declined in 62, or 58 percent, of the metro areas with enough data to analyze in both the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. Seriously underwater rates decreased, year over year, in 103 of those 107 metros (97 percent).
More than 25 percent of residential properties seriously underwater in just 42 zip codes
Among 8,705 U.S. zip codes that had at least 2,000 homes with mortgages in the first quarter of 2022, there were only 42 locations where more than 25 percent of mortgaged properties were seriously underwater. Of those, 20 were in Cleveland, OH; others were found in Columbia, MO; Detroit, MI; St. Louis, MO, and Philadelphia, PA.
The top five zip codes with the largest shares of seriously underwater properties in the first quarter of 2022 were 39553 in Jackson, MS (55.2 percent of mortgaged homes were seriously underwater); 39564 in Jackson, MS (52 percent); 44108 in Cleveland, OH (48.8 percent); 46408 in Gary, IN (45.4 percent) and 65202 in Columbia, MO (45.2 percent).
Most homeowners facing foreclosure have at least some equity
Only about 201,000 homeowners were facing possible foreclosure in the first quarter of 2022, or just three-tenths of one percent of the 58.1 million outstanding mortgages in the U.S. However, 180,000, or 90 percent of those facing possible lender takeover, had at least some equity built up in their homes.
“Positive equity should give financially distressed homeowners better options than their counterparts had during the Great Recession, when 33 percent of all homeowners were underwater on their mortgages,” Sharga noted. “Hopefully these borrowers will be able to tap into their equity to refinance their debt, or be able to leverage it to sell their property and get a fresh start.”
States with the highest percentages of homeowners who had equity in their properties and were facing foreclosure in the first quarter of 2022 included New Hampshire (99 percent with equity), Idaho (99 percent), Utah (99 percent), Washington (97 percent) and Colorado (97 percent). States with the lowest percentages included Mississippi (58 percent with equity), Louisiana (76 percent), Maryland (80 percent), Illinois (81 percent) and Kansas (82 percent).
The ATTOM U.S. Home Equity & Underwater report provides counts of properties based on several categories of equity — or loan to value (LTV) — at the state, metro, county and zip code level, along with the percentage of total properties with a mortgage that each equity category represents. The equity/LTV is calculated based on record-level loan model estimating position and amount of loans secured by a property and a record-level automated valuation model (AVM) derived from publicly recorded mortgage and deed of trust data collected and licensed by ATTOM nationwide for more than 155 million U.S. properties. The ATTOM Home Equity Data has been updated and modified to better reflect a housing market focused on the traditional home buying process. ATTOM found that markets where investors were more prominent, they would offset the loan to value ratio due to sales involving multiple properties with a single jumbo loan encompassing all of the properties. Therefore, going forward such activity is now excluded from the reports in order to provide traditional consumer home purchase and loan activity.
Seriously underwater: Loan to value ratio of 125 percent or above, meaning the property owner owed at least 25 percent more than the estimated market value of the property.
Equity-rich: Loan to value ratio of 50 percent or lower, meaning the property owner had at least 50 percent equity.
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