Homes Gain Equity Again

What’s the equity picture for homes today? CoreLogic reported that nearly 273,000 U.S. homes returned to positive equity in the third quarter of 2014, bringing the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity to approximately 44.6 million, or 90 percent of all mortgaged properties. Nationwide, borrower equity increased year over year by approximately $800 billion in Q3 2014. Here’s the full picture:

The CoreLogic analysis indicates that approximately 5.1 million homes, or 10.3 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage, were still in negative equity as of Q3 2014 compared to 5.4 million homes, or 10.9 percent, for Q2 2014. This compares to a negative equity share of 13.3 percent, or 6.5 million homes, in Q3 2013, representing a year-over-year decrease in the number of underwater homes by almost 1.5 million (1,433,296), or 3.0 percent.

Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” means that borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.

For the homes in negative equity status, the national aggregate value of negative equity was $338 billion at the end of Q3 2014, down $10.2 billion from approximately $348.2 billion in the second quarter 2014. On a year-over-year basis, the value of negative equity declined from $403.2 billion in Q3 2013, representing a decrease of 16.2 percent in 12 months.

Of the 44.6 million residential properties with positive equity, approximately 9.4 million, or 19 percent, have less than 20-percent equity (referred to as “under-equitied”) and 1.3 million of those have less than 5-percent equity (referred to as near-negative equity). Borrowers who are “under-equitied” may have a more difficult time refinancing their existing homes or obtaining new financing to sell and buy another home due to underwriting constraints. Borrowers with near-negative equity are considered at risk of moving into negative equity if home prices fall. In contrast, if home prices rose by as little as 5 percent, an additional 1 million homeowners now in negative equity would regain equity.

“Nationally, the negative equity share is down over three percentage points over the past year. Declines were concentrated in a handful of states, such as Nevada, Georgia, Michigan and Florida,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic. “Forecasted house price appreciation of about five percent over the next year suggests that negative equity should be at about 8 percent a year from now, still above average, but approaching the pre-crisis level.”

“Negative equity continued to decrease in the third quarter as did the level of homes mired in the foreclosure process. This should hopefully translate into less friction in the housing market as we move forward,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Better fundamentals supporting homeownership in the face of higher rents should attract more first-time homebuyers to the market this year and next.”

About The Author

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Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.