Nearly 50% of Winston-Salem-area homeowners are in the equity-rich category during the second quarter, which signifies owning at least half of their residence, according to a report released Thursday by national real-estate research firm Attom Data Solutions.
Meanwhile, there was a slight decrease in homeowners considered as seriously behind on their mortgage payments.
A mortgage is underwater when a homeowner owes more on the loan than the home is worth. Attom defines seriously underwater as owing at least 25% more on a mortgage than the property’s value.
The Winston-Salem metropolitan statistical area consists of Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes and Yadkin counties.
Attom reported that 48.3% of Winston-Salem-area households, or 59,847, were in the equity-rich category during the second quarter. That’s up from 51,751, or 42.7%, from the first quarter.
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By comparison, the equity-rich count was as low as 18.6%, or 26,057, during the third quarter of 2020.
Part of the differences in the equity-rich counts is homeowners completing the paying off their mortgage in recent quarters.
Meanwhile, there were 3,231 Winston-Salem-area homeowners listed as seriously underwater, or 2.6%, during the second quarter. There were 3,509 homeowners in that category, or 2.8%, in the first quarter.
By comparison, the recent high is 11,124, or 7.9%, in the third quarter of 2021.
The biggest factor in the sharp decline has been mortgage lenders — until recently — suspending payment requirements that helped keep the seriously underwater percentage down during the pandemic.
“After 124 consecutive months of home price increases, it’s no surprise that the percentage of equity-rich homes is the highest we’ve ever seen, and that the percentage of seriously underwater loans is the lowest,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at Attom.
“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 they have for the rest of 2022.”
Attom reported the Greensboro-High Point MSA also had a slight decline in residences considered as seriously underwater during the second quarter.
The count was at 3,854, or 2.7%, compared with 4,034, or 2.8%, in the first quarter.
The three-county region of Guilford, Randolph and Rockingham also had 48.3%, or 68,934, in the equity-rich category. That’s compared with 42.6%, or 60,635, in the first quarter.
“Officials with the Winston-Salem Regional Association of Realtors have cautioned that information on underwater loans can affect the real-estate market by undermining consumer confidence, causing some hesitation in buying or trying to sell a house now, and prompting an overreaction.