More Owners Fall Into an Equity Sweet Spot

July 15, 2015

As home prices rise, home owners equity is growing at the fastest quarterly rate since 2013, according to the National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog. The total value of household equity has bloomed to $11.7 trillion – $5.6 trillion higher than it was at the bottom of the housing crisis. This equates to about $63,000 per property, according to NAR.

Home owner equity peaked in 2005 when the value of U.S. homes (measured in market value less debt) soared to $13.1 trillion. But the financial crisis caused millions of home owners to see their equity slip away as home values plunged. This meant that, even with falling rates, many could not refinance and others couldn’t sell without bringing cash to closing. As such, home owners stayed put or were forced to face a short sale or foreclosure.

Between 2011 and 2014, the home owner equity picture has gradually changed. Home equity levels may likely return to 2005 levels by the end of this year or mid-2016. With more equity, home owners will have better options, such as the ability to sell or even take out home equity lines of credit by borrowing against their homes. The improvement in home equity is also leading to fewer foreclosure starts.

Source: “Returning Equity Boosts Real Estate Markets,” RealtyTrac (July 9, 2015) and “Home Owner Equity as a Share of the Value of Real Estate Could Normalize Within the Year,” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog (June 18, 2015)