Homeowners across the country — and especially in Western states like California, Colorado and Washington — were able to grow equity in their homes over the years. But a recent report from CoreLogic shows that Western states have posted losses in average equity in the first quarter of this year.
The lone exception? New Mexico.
Of the 11 states that make up the contiguous Western United States, the Land of Enchantment was the only state to post a gain in home equity — the report revealing New Mexico saw a year-over-year increase of $10,000 in average equity gains. Additionally, the share of New Mexico homeowners with negative equity was at 2%. That ranked New Mexico in the middle of the pack nationally.
“The fact that 98% of our homeowners have positive equity — aka wealth that’s been created in their home — (is) a great number,” said Abrazo Homes co-owner and co-founder Mackenzie Bishop. “It lends credence to owning a home as a huge part of improving the livelihood and financial well-being of your family. … I think it points to the fact that Albuquerque has always been a much more stable market than most of the markets around us.”
California posted a decline of $60,000 in average equity over the past year. Colorado homeowners lost, on average, $23,000 in equity. In Arizona, homeowners saw a decrease of $19,000. And the largest loss of all states was Washington, at $74,000, the report shows.
The average homeowner in the U.S. lost $5,400 in equity, which, combined, totals about $108.4 billion. CoreLogic says it is the first time homeowners with a mortgage have lost a small amount of equity year-over-year in over a decade.
But some states — mostly on the East Coast — posted increases in home equity. Florida, for instance, had a $24,500 bump in average equity — the second highest across the country. Rhode Island had an average year-over-year equity gain of $23,700.
Mike Loftin, CEO of Homewise, a community development finance institution, told the Journal that states on the West Coast likely saw decreases in home equity because of recent cooling after a string of increases in home prices, a point the report touches on.
“Their home prices have just gone absolutely crazy, way worse than it was in New Mexico,” he said. “It was overpriced, now it’s correcting and going down somewhat — not a lot but somewhat. New Mexico didn’t have the same run-up. Home prices in general are cheaper than these other states. So, we’re holding our own pretty well — in fact, there’s still growth.”
But there is still some good news for U.S. homeowners. The average homeowner, the report says, has more than $274,000 in equity — up from $182,000 before the pandemic.
“ While homeowners in some areas of the country who bought a property last spring have no equity as a result of price losses, forecasted home price appreciation over the next year should help many borrowers regain some of that lost equity,” said Selma Hepp, chief economist for CoreLogic.