Americans Sees Biggest Home Equity Jump In 60 Years: Mortgages

A Bloomberg study found that Americans’ total home equity has hit the highest level since 2008, thanks to lower mortgage rates and more cash on the table.

Total home equity in the US in the first quarter of the year: $6.7 trillion. That’s six-point-seven thousand billion. I just like big numbers.

Bloomberg says that’s up 7.3 percent, but it doesn’t say from what. (I’m guessing the first quarter of 2011, but who knows?)

This might be the money quote:

“The willingness of homeowners to carry housing debt has been radically altered,” said DeKaser, former chairman of the American Bankers Association’s Economic Advisory Committee. “When the market was booming, a mortgage was used as a leveraging tool, and now it’s seen as a risk.”

In other words, home equity is up because mortgage borrowing is down. Either way, not a bad thing. As homeowners feel they’re on more solid ground, they’ll spend more, do more, and otherwise speed the recovery.

But the Bloomberg report has lots more going on.

  • Equity was 41 percent of total property value — the highest since Q3 2008 when it was 43 percent.
  • Residential mortgage debt peaked in 2007 at $10.6 trillion. Since then, it has fallen 7 percent.
  • Since 2007, residential property value has dropped 23 percent; Cash-Shiller says it’s down 35 percent from its peak.
  • More people are choosing shorter loans. The average length of a mortgage is now 27 years — down from 29 years in February. (Ergo, more people are opting for shorter mortgages, such as 15-year-fixed-rate plans.)
  • About 23 percent of mortgage holders are underwater.


Realtor with Greg Garrett Realty, actively licensed in the state of Virginia

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