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HomeEconomyClimbing the Equity Everest: American Homeowners' $28.7 Trillion Advantage

Climbing the Equity Everest: American Homeowners’ $28.7 Trillion Advantage

When you think of treasures, gold mines or stock portfolios might come to mind. But there’s another kind of treasure many Americans are sitting on, and it’s right under their roofs. American homeowners are now perched atop a staggering $28.7 trillion in home equity.

To break it down: Although there’s been a dip from an all-time high of $31.8 trillion in Q2 2022, each owner-occupied home in the U.S. still boasts an average equity of around $334,000. Not too shabby, right?

But why such a big number? Look no further than the upward trend in home prices. With homes being viewed as not just a shelter but a valuable asset, the appreciation in their prices has been a silver lining, especially as many households see their pandemic savings deplete. Economists from Wells Fargo even dubbed this phenomenon an “underappreciated tailwind.”

Here’s a fun fact to put things into perspective: Homeowners today have a thicker equity cushion than at any time during the 35 years stretching from 1987 to 2022. Yes, borrowing is costlier with high rates, but when you compare a home loan to the interest-devouring beast that is credit card debt, the former seems like a walk in the park.

Delving deeper, a study by LendingTree between January and July 2023 analyzed 580,000 home equity loan offers. The findings? The average loan offer across the states was $104,102. If you’re in Massachusetts, New York, or Vermont, you’re looking at even loftier numbers, with loans north of $135,000. On the flip side, states like Mississippi, North Dakota, and Missouri sat at the other end of the spectrum with offers around $75,000.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Jacob Channel, a senior economist at LendingTree, throws a word of caution into the mix. Home equity loans, while tempting, come with their fair share of pitfalls. Defaulting on such a loan can be financially catastrophic. His advice? Understand the full spectrum of risks before diving in.

Yet, the overarching narrative remains positive. Thanks to escalating home values during the pandemic, real estate now forms a quarter of household assets. This robust equity position is poised to be the wind beneath the wings of consumer spending.

Echoing this sentiment, economists at Wells Fargo conclude with an optimistic outlook: “The twin forces of surging home values and a spike in mortgage refinancing are likely to bolster households for years to come.” So, for homeowners, it seems the future is not just in bricks and mortar, but in the potential those assets unlock.

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