Based on ATTOM Data Solutions' first-quarter 2020 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, over 14.5 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value.
The count of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2020 represented 26.5 percent, or about one in four, of the 54.7 million mortgaged homes in the U.S. That percentage was down slightly from the 26.7 percent level in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The report also shows that just 3.6 million, or one in 15, mortgaged homes in the first quarter of 2020 were considered seriously underwater, with a combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property at least 25 percent more than the property's estimated market value. That figure represented 6.6 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage, up slightly from 6.4 percent in the prior quarter.
The figures were derived from the last data recorded before the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic began to sweep across the U.S., potentially damaging the nation's housing market.
"Homeowners' balance sheets generally remained strong in the first quarter of 2020 across the U.S., with about the same levels of equity-rich or seriously underwater mortgages as in the prior quarter. In the latest marker of the ongoing housing market boom, mortgage payers were four times as likely to have homes worth considerably more than what they owed on their loans than considerably less," said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. "But as with other rosy first-quarter reports, this one needs to be taken in the context of the looming impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. With the potential for home values to fall, there is a significant chance that equity levels could drop over the coming months while underwater levels rise."
Highest equity-rich shares remain in the Northeast and West
The top 10 states with the highest share of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2020 were all in the Northeast and West regions, led by California (42.3 percent equity-rich), Hawaii (39.0 percent), Vermont (38.2 percent), Washington (36.6 percent) and Oregon (34.0 percent).
States with the lowest percentage of equity-rich properties were Louisiana (13.5 percent equity-rich), Oklahoma (14.7 percent), Illinois (15.2 percent), Arkansas (16.3 percent) and Alabama (16.3 percent). Those were the same states with the five lowest levels in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Among 107 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report with a population greater than 500,000, those top 5 metro areas with the highest shares of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2020 were all in California: San Jose (64.8 percent equity-rich), San Francisco (57.0 percent), Los Angeles (47.4 percent), Santa Rosa (45.5 percent) and San Diego (40.0 percent). The leader in the Northeast region again was Boston, MA, (34.8 percent) while Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, again led the South (36.6 percent) and Grand Rapids, MI, continued to lead in the Midwest (26.4 percent).
Metro areas with the lowest percentage of equity-rich properties were Baton Rouge, LA (10.3 percent equity-rich); Columbia, SC (13.5 percent); Little Rock, AR (13.6 percent); Tulsa, OK (13.8 percent) and Dayton, OH (14.5 percent).
Among the 107 metro areas, 38 metro areas (35.5 percent) showed an increase in levels of equity-rich properties from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020; while 69 metro areas (64.5 percent) showed a decrease.
Top equity-rich counties concentrated in West and Northeast
Among the 1,463 counties with at least 2,500 properties with mortgages in the first quarter of 2020, 24 of the top 25 equity-rich locations were in the West or Northeast regions, with the highest concentration in California.
Counties with the highest shares of equity-rich properties were San Mateo County (outside San Francisco), CA (72.3 percent equity-rich); San Francisco County, CA (69.6 percent); Santa Clara County (San Jose), CA (65.7 percent); Alameda County (outside San Francisco), CA (57.8 percent) and Dukes County (Martha's Vineyard), MA (54.8 percent).
More than 50 percent of all properties were equity-rich in 457 zip codes
Among 8,248 U.S. zip codes with at least 2,000 properties with mortgages in the first quarter of 2020, there were 457 zip codes where at least half of all properties with a mortgage were equity rich.
Forty-eight of the top 50 were in California, with most in the San Francisco Bay area. They were led by zip codes 94116 in San Francisco (82.0 percent equity-rich), 94122 in San Francisco (81.3 percent), 94040 in Mountain View (80.0 percent), 94112 in San Francisco (78.9 percent) and 94087 in Sunnyvale (78.4 percent). The same zip codes were in the top five in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Highest seriously underwater shares remain in the South and Midwest
The top 10 states with the highest shares of mortgages that were seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2020 were all in the South and Midwest regions, led by Louisiana (17.3 percent seriously underwater), Mississippi (16.9 percent), West Virginia (15.7 percent), Iowa (14.2 percent) and Arkansas (13.0 percent).
Among the 107 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report with a population greater than 500,000, those with the highest share of mortgages that were seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2020 were Youngstown, OH (17.0 percent); Baton Rouge, LA (16.4 percent); Scranton, PA (14.5 percent); Toledo, OH (14.3 percent) and Cleveland, OH (13.7 percent).
Among the 107 metro areas, 65 metro areas (60.7 percent) showed an increase in levels of underwater properties from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020; while 42 metro areas (39.3 percent) showed a decrease.
More than 25 percent of all properties were seriously underwater in 157 zip codes
Among 8,248 U.S. zip codes with at least 2,000 properties with mortgages in the first quarter of 2020, there were 157 zip codes where at least a quarter of all properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater. The largest number of those zip codes were in the Cleveland, OH; Philadelphia, PA; St. Louis, MO; Chicago, IL, and Rockford, IL, metropolitan statistical areas.
The top five zip codes with the highest shares of seriously underwater properties were 71446 in Leesville, LA (65.1 percent seriously underwater); 08611 in Trenton, NJ (59.8 percent); 53206 in Milwaukee, WI (59.2 percent); 44110 in Cleveland, OH (58.6 percent); and 08104 in Camden, NJ (54.6 percent).