The fourth quarter of 2019 ended with 14.5 million equity-rich residential properties, according to new statistics from ATTOM Data Solutions
. This represented 26.7 percent, or about one in four, of the 54.5 million mortgaged homes, unchanged from the third quarter.
Also during the fourth quarter, 3.5 million mortgaged homes, or one in 16, were considered seriously underwater. This represented 6.4 percent of all properties with a mortgage, down slightly from 6.5 percent in the prior quarter.
The top states with the highest share of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter California (42.8 percent equity-rich), Vermont (39.2 percent), Hawaii (38.8 percent), Washington (35.4 percent) and New York (35.1 percent). The states with the lowest percentage of equity-rich properties were Louisiana (13.6 percent), Oklahoma (14.9 percent), Illinois (15.3 percent), Arkansas (16.3 percent) and Alabama (16.5 percent). The major metro areas with the highest shares of equity-rich properties were San Jose (65.9 percent equity-rich), San Francisco (57.5 percent), Los Angeles (47.8 percent), Santa Rosa, Calif. (45.9 percent) and Honolulu (39.3 percent). The major metro areas with the lowest percentage of equity-rich properties were Baton Rouge, La. (10.8 percent equity-rich), Little Rock, Ark. (13.4 percent), Tulsa (13.7 percent), Columbia, S.C. (13.9 percent) and Akron, Ohio (14.6 percent).
“Homeownership continued boosting household balance sheets across the United States in the fourth quarter of 2019, as people paying off mortgages were much more likely to be in equity-rich territory than seriously underwater,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “That marked yet another sign of how much the country has benefited from an eight-year housing-market boom. Some big gaps in equity levels persist between regions and market segments. But as home values keep climbing, financial resources keep building for homeowners, which provides them with leverage to make home repairs, help their children through college or take on other major expenses.”