ATTOM Data Solutions released This Week in Real Estate its first-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Equity and Underwater Report, which shows that about one in three homes is equity rich. That means the estimated market value of a home is 50 percent or greater than the outstanding loan amounts secured by the home or the property owner has at least 50 percent equity. Below are a few newsworthy events from the second week of May that influence our business:
* Home Equity Continues Growing in U.S. During First Quarter. ATTOM Data Solutions released its first-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report on Thursday, which shows that 17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value. The count of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2021 represented 31.9 percent, or about one in three, of the 55.8 million mortgaged homes in the United States. That was up from 30.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, 28.3 percent in the third quarter, and 26.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020 – one of many measures showing how the U.S. housing market continues fending off economic damage caused by the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. The Northeast and West again had far higher levels of equity-rich properties than other regions. The top 11 states with the highest levels in the first quarter of 2021 were led by Vermont, (51.5 percent of mortgage properties were equity-rich), Idaho (50.6 percent), California (49 percent), Washington (44.5 percent), and Utah (42.5 percent).
* U.S. Mortgage Applications Increase in Early May. “Mortgage rates fell last week to the lowest levels since February, tracking the dip in Treasury yields. The decline in rates helped the refinance index reach its highest level in eight weeks, driven by a 4 percent increase in conventional refinances. Additionally, refinance loan balances increased for the fourth straight week, an indication that higher-balance borrowers acted to take quick advantage of lower rates,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “The first week of May was also strong for the purchase market. Applications were up 13 percent from a year ago, which was around the time the housing market awakened from the pandemic-induced stall inactivity. Most markets this spring continue to see robust demand, but activity continues to be constrained by insufficient inventory levels, as well as homebuilder challenges related to the ongoing shortages and price increases for building materials.”
* Virtually Every Metro Area Experienced Home Price Rise in First Quarter. Nearly every metro area tracked by the National Association of Realtors – 99% – recorded year-over-year price increases in the first quarter of 2021, according to the latest quarterly report released by NAR. “Significant price increases throughout the country simply illustrate strong demand and record-low housing supply,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The record-high home prices are happening across nearly all markets, big and small, even in those metros that have long been considered off-the-radar in prior years for many home seekers.” The overwhelming majority of metros experienced strong price increases, with 89% (163 metro areas out of 183) registering double-digit price growth. Nationally, the median existing-home sales price rose 16.2% on a year-over-year basis to $319,200, a record high since 1989. All regions recorded double-digit year-over-year price growth, with the Northeast seeing a 22.1% increase, followed by the West (18.0%), South (15.0%), and Midwest (14.4%).