Once again, homeowners increased their wealth over renters. According to the recent CoreLogic report, homeowners' equity increased 8.1% year over year in fourth quarter 2018.
The average homeowner has gained $9,700 in home equity between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2018, the report showed. Western states saw some of the most significant annual gains. Nevada homeowners, for example, saw an increase of $29,400 in home equity over the past year, and Hawaii homeowners saw gains of about $26,900.
“As home prices rise, significantly more people are choosing to remodel, repair or upgrade their existing homes,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The increase in home equity over the past several years provides homeowners with the means to finance home remodels and repairs. With rates still ultra-low by historical standards, home-equity loans provide a low-cost method to finance home-improvement spending. These expenditures are expected to rise 5 percent in 2019.”
The number of homes with a mortgage in negative equity—where the homeowner’s loan balance is higher than the home’s current worth—was at 2.2 million, or 4.2 percent of all mortgaged properties in the fourth quarter.
However, with predictions of a 4.5 percent increase in home prices over the next year, about 350,000 homeowners could be lifted from being underwater and restored to positive equity, says Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s chief economist.