More than 14.5 million U.S. properties were equity rich by the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to new statistics from ATTOM Data Solutions
. This represents 25.6 percent of residential properties, and the fourth quarter quantity is the highest number since data was first tracked in the fourth quarter of 2013.
California had the highest share of equity rich properties (43.6 percent) and San Jose led the major metro areas in this percentage (72 percent). At the same time, more than five million residential properties were seriously underwater, or 8.8 percent share of mortgaged residences. Louisiana had the highest share of seriously underwater residences at 20.8 percent, while the state capital of Baton Rouge led the major metros with a 20.7 percent share of seriously underwater residences.
"With homeowners staying put longer, homeownership equity will most likely continue to strengthen. Those that are seriously underwater may find themselves coming up for air as they continue to pay off excessive legacy mortgages or sell," said Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. "This report helps to showcase a story of the West coast markets having the highest share of equity rich homeowners versus the South and Midwest markets, who continue to have stubbornly high rates of seriously underwater homeowners."