CoreLogic® (NYSE: CLGX), on Thursday reported that 548,000 U.S. homeowners regained equity in the second quarter of this year, bringing the percentage of homes with positive equity to 92.9% of all mortgaged properties (47.2 million homes). Home equity grew year over year by $646 billion, representing an increase of 9.9% from the same period last year.
In Q2 2016, the total number of mortgaged residential properties with negative equity stood at 3.6 million, or 7.1 percent of all homes with a mortgage. This is a decrease of 13.2 percent quarter over quarter from 4.2 million homes, or 8.2 percent, in Q1 2016 and a decrease of 19 percent year over year from 4.5 million homes, or 8.9 percent, compared with Q2 2015.
Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” applies to borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in home value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.
For homes in negative equity status, the national aggregate value of negative equity was $284 billion at the end of Q2 2016, decreasing approximately $20.4 billion, or 6.7 percent, from $305 billion in Q1 2016. On a year-over-year basis, the value of negative equity declined overall from $314 billion in Q2 2015, representing a decrease of 9.5 percent in 12 months.
Of the more than 50 million homes with a mortgage, approximately 8.6 million, or 17 percent, have less than 20 percent equity (referred to as under-equitied) and approximately 965,000, or 1.9 percent, have less than 5 percent equity (referred to as near-negative equity). Borrowers who are under-equitied may have a difficult time refinancing their existing homes or obtaining new financing to sell and buy another home due to underwriting constraints. Borrowers with near-negative equity are considered at risk of shifting into negative equity if home prices fall.
“Home-value gains have played a large part in restoring home equity,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The CoreLogic Home Price Index for the U.S. recorded 5.2 percent growth in the year through June, an important reason that the number of owners with negative equity fell by 850,000 in the second quarter from a year earlier.”