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: The average American homeowner has nearly $200,000 in home equity, thanks to rising house prices

Home buyers are feeling weighed down by how expensive it is to buy a home. But for those who already own their own property, their ability to tap their home’s rising equity has become a big boon.

Homeowners’ equity hit $10.5 trillion in June, the fourth-highest month on record, up from $10.3 trillion in May, according to a Black Knight report released this week. (It reached $10.8 trillion at the end of 2022, a bumper year for house prices.)

The Black Knight Home Price Index has also reached a record high. The company’s data goes back to 2000.

“Tappable” equity — what is available for homeowners to borrow against while maintaining a 20% equity stake — climbed to $10.5 trillion in June and is within $434 billion or 4% of the 2022 “tappable equity” peak.

The average mortgage holder had $199,000 in equity in June, up from $185,000 in the first quarter of the year, Black Knight said.

Some 14 million homeowners refinanced during the pandemic and secured ultra-low mortgage rates, the New York Fed said. Homeowners who refinanced over the last three years saved $42 billion cumulatively, Black Knight added.

On the flip side, only 344,000 homeowners are “underwater,” or owe more on their homes than their properties are worth. During the height of the Great Recession, more than 16 million homeowners were underwater on their mortgages, Black Knight added.

Rising home prices have been a drag for homebuyers as they find fewer attractive and financially appealing options. 

It cost homeowners $2,308 in July to buy a typical home worth $443,000, up from $2,292 in June, Black Knight said. That cost includes the principal and monthly interest. A household earning median wages would have to spend 36% of their income on their home.

Some of the least affordable housing markets include Los Angeles, where the typical household would have to spend 68.9% of their income on mortgage payments, followed by San Diego (60.4%), and San Jose (58.4%), Black Knight said.

The most affordable markets are in the Midwest. A typical buyer would have to spend just 22.9% of their income on their mortgage in Cleveland, 25% of their income on a house in Pittsburgh, and 25.2% in Oklahoma City.

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