More homeowners are equity rich in the Golden State

Are you feeling rich? If you’re a homeowner, you should.

Almost two every three homeowners with a mortgage in California are considered “equity rich” – or owe less than half of the market value of their home, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. The 63% of equity-rich homeowners in California during the second quarter compares to 54% a year ago, the previous record for the three-month period.

A booming demand and a critical shortage of homes for sale lifted home prices to record highs almost every month during the past two years, according to the California Association of Realtors. For example, if you bought a half-million-dollar home in 2017, you may own a $1 million property today.

After a decade of home price increases, “it’s no surprise that the percentage of equity rich homes is the highest we’ve ever seen,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at ATTOM Data in Irvine. 

BAY AREA BRAGS

Perhaps not a surprise but definitely staggering. 

Three of every four (75.1%) homeowners with a mortgage in San Jose are considered equity rich, the second-highest level in the nation behind Austin (76.5%). San Francisco has the third-highest percentage at almost 71%. 

The Bay Area may boast the biggest percentage of equity-rich homeowners in the state, but owners in other regions also have a reason to smile. Los Angeles and San Diego are at 68%, followed by Riverside-San Bernardino counties and Sacramento-Roseville at 57%. 

Only Bakersfield at 43.6% is below the national average of 44.9% of equity-rich homeowners.

CHEERS TO JEERS?

The record percentage of equity gains in the second quarter could slip in the next few quarters, especially with higher mortgage rates hurting home prices and sales during the past several weeks.

“While home price appreciation appears to be slowing down due to higher interest rates on mortgage loans, it seems likely that homeowners will continue to build on the record amount of equity that they have for the rest of 2022,” Sharga says.

Jordan Levine, senior vice president and chief economist of the California Association of Realtors, says home prices should increase almost 10% this year compared to 2021. But it’s possible the increase happened during the first half of the year, and home prices will just bounce around in a narrow range for the remainder of the year – or even dip slightly.

California’s median home price – meaning half the homes sold for more, the other half for less – dropped 4% to $864,000 in June compared to July, according to CAR.

The Federal Reserve’s three interest rate hikes in as many months is to blame for the dip, housing experts say. The average monthly mortgage payment has increased more than 40% since March, causing many wanna-be buyers to hold off or be priced out of the market.

Region% equity rich in Q2 2022% equity rich in Q2 2021
California 63.1%54%
San Jose-Sunnyvale75.1%69.4%
San Francisco70.5%64.9%
Los Angeles67.7%57.9%
San Diego67.7%54.3%
Stockton-Lodi56.8%49.3%
Riverside-San Bernardino56.7%45.3%
Sacramento56.5%46.7%
Fresno51.1%38.7%
Bakersfield43.6%32.5%