Home sales numbers are leveling off, the rate of price appreciation has slowed to more historically normal averages, and inventory is finally increasing. We are headed into a more normal housing market.
However, some are seeing these adjustments as red flags and are suggesting that we are headed back to the same challenges we experienced in 2008. Today, let’s look at one set of statistics that prove the current market is nothing like the one that preceded the housing crash last decade.
The previous bubble was partially caused by unhealthy levels of mortgage debt. New purchasers were putting down the minimum down payment, resulting in them having little if any equity in their homes.
Existing homeowners were using their homes as ATMs by refinancing and swapping their equity for cash. When prices started to fall, many homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation (where their mortgage was higher than the value of their home) so they walked away which caused prices to fall even further. When this happened, even more homeowners found themselves in negative equity situations which caused them to walk away as well, and so a vicious cycle formed.
Today, the equity situation is totally different. According to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions more than 1-in-4 homes with a mortgage have at least 50% equity. The report explains:
“…nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties were equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value…The 14.5 million equity rich properties in Q3 2018 represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage.”
In addition, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30.3% of homes in the country have no mortgage on them.
If we take both numbers, the 30.3% of all homes without a mortgage and the 17.9% with at least 50% equity (25.7% of the 69.3% of homes with a mortgage), we realize that 48.2% of all homes in the country have at least 50% equity.
Unlike 2008, almost half of the homeowners in the country are sitting on massive amounts of home equity. They will not be walking away from their homes if the housing market begins to soften.