American homeowners are $ 1 trillion richer as the pandemic-triggered housing boom replenishes their pockets.
With rising prices, home equity multiplies. Over the past year, homeowners with mortgages, which comprise roughly 63% of all homes, saw their equity grow 10.8%, according to CoreLogic.
That translates to a total capital gain of $ 1 trillion, or an average of $ 17,000 per homeowner, the largest equity gain in more than six years.
Homeowners in some states have seen greater equity gains than others. Countries with the hottest real estate prices recorded the greatest increases.
In Washington state, homeowners sent an average of $ 35,800. They made $ 33,800 in California and an average of $ 31,200 in Massachusetts.
However, North Dakota homeowners hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic saw the lowest annual stock gain of just $ 5,400.
“Over the past year, the strong growth in property prices has created record levels of home equity for homeowners,” said Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic. “The average family on a mortgage loan had $ 194,000 home equity in the third quarter. This is an important buffer to protect families when they run into financial trouble.”
It has contributed to historically low foreclosure rates, though part of that can also be attributed to mortgage forbearance programs that were introduced at the start of the pandemic. Still, it will help the borrowers who are struggling the most and may not be able to keep their homes. You can sell in the market and possibly still make a profit.
Prices are rising so quickly because the demand for housing is incredibly strong and the supply is equally meager. The pandemic’s work and school culture only increased demand, which had already risen as the millennial generation aged into their home years. Mortgage rates, which have hit 14 record lows so far this year, have helped even more buyers get into the game.
So far, home buying hasn’t dropped off much, especially for newly built homes. However, the contracts signed for existing homes fell slightly in September and October. This may be less of a demand problem than a problem of continued scarcity and lower affordability.
However, some claim that the barrel on the case is actually running out of steam.
“With the pent-up demand from the spring now largely exhausted, mortgage rates unlikely to fall any further, inventory levels at record lows and early signs that the urban exodus is slowing, home sales will continue to decline through 2021,” wrote Matthew Pointon. Real estate economist at Capital Economics. “This, along with tight credit conditions, suggests that the current boom in property prices will prove short-lived.”
The exodus from big cities also appears to be slowing, with some shoppers looking for bargains again.
While home prices can decline, prices are unlikely to drop dramatically simply because of the imbalance between supply and demand. This will continue to help the borrowers who have the least amount of equity.
Currently, the percentage of borrowers in a negative equity position, more from their mortgages than their homes, is down more than 18% year over year. There is now only 3%, 1.6 million pledged properties, in a negative equity position.