As house values continued growing, homeowners with mortgages, accounting for 63% of all properties, saw their equity increase 13.3% year-over-year in the first quarter, a gain of over $1.01 trillion, according to CoreLogic. The average homeowner gained $16,300 in equity from a year ago.
Negative equity declined 21% year-over-year in the first quarter from 3.1 million homes, or 6.1% of properties with mortgages. Negative equity also dropped 3% from the prior quarter.
“Home price growth has accelerated in recent months, helping to build home equity wealth and lift underwater homeowners back into positive equity — the primary driver of home equity wealth creation,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic.
“The CoreLogic Home Price Index grew 6.7% during the year ending March 2018, the largest 12-month increase in four years. Likewise, the average growth in home equity was more than $15,000 during 2017, the most in four years. Washington led all states with 12.8% appreciation, and its homeowners also had much larger home equity gains than the national average,” he added.
Western states in particular saw the greatest gains in home equity, which grew an average of $44,000 for Washington homeowners and increased by $51,000 for California homeowners. Strong equity gains in the West were driven by particularly high home prices in the region, according to Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.
“Home equity balances continue to grow across the nation. In the far Western states, equity gains are fueled by a long run in home price escalation. With strong economic growth and higher purchase demand, we expect these trends to continue for the foreseeable future,” Martell said. Following California and Washington, Hawaii and Nevada were also among states seeing the most annual equity gains in the first quarter.