According to CoreLogic's latest Homeowner Equity Report for the third quarter of 2021, U.S. homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 63% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by 31.1% year over year, representing a collective equity gain of over $3.2 trillion, and an average gain of $56,700 per borrower, since the third quarter of 2020.
This summer, home price growth reached the highest level in more than 45 years, pushing equity gains to another record high and allowing 70,000 properties to regain equity in the third quarter of 2021. These equity gains provided a crucial barrier against foreclosure for the 1.2 million borrowers who reached the end of forbearance in September.
"Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they've also enabled many to continue building their wealth," said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "This financial reserve will be especially helpful for homeowners looking to fund renovation projects."
"Home price growth is the principal driver of home equity creation," said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. "The CoreLogic Home Price Index reported home prices were up 17.7% for the past 12 months ending September, spurring the record gains in home equity wealth."
Because home equity is affected by home price changes, borrowers with equity positions near (+/- 5%) the negative equity cutoff are most likely to move out of or into negative equity as prices change, respectively. Looking at the third quarter of 2021 book of mortgages, if home prices increase by 5%, 145,000 homes would regain equity; if home prices decline by 5%, 191,000 would fall underwater.
Negative equity, also referred to as underwater or upside-down mortgages, applies to borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are currently worth. As of the third quarter of 2021, negative equity share, and the quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year changes, were as follows: