LOS ANGELES -- Homeowner equity climbed to record highs in the first half of this year, though its rate of growth is slowing as the housing market cools.
Average homeowner equity per borrower reached $298,380 in the second quarter, according to data from CoreLogic.
That works out to $3.6 trillion in equity gained by U.S. homeowners with a mortgage, which represent about 63% of all homes, the real estate information company said.
Average homeowner equity jumped 25.3% from the second quarter last year and rose 6.6% from the first three months of this year. That's a smaller year-over-year and quarterly increase than in the first three months of 2022, reflecting a more moderate pace of home price growth as the housing market has cooled amid sharply higher mortgage rates.
Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes fell in August for the seventh month in a row, according to the National Association of Realtors. Home prices, which surged around 20% earlier this year, have been rising more slowly. The national median home price rose 7.7% in August from a year earlier to $389,500, according to the NAR.
Home price growth is likely to continue to slow. CoreLogic forecasts that home prices will increase by 5% over the next year.
"This slowdown in price growth will slow home equity gains," said Molly Boesel, an economist at CoreLogic.
Rising homeowner equity creates a buffer for borrowers against potential financial hardship, such as job loss. And it can give homeowners financial flexibility to borrow against their equity to finance large purchases, such as home improvement projects, or pay off high-interest debt -- a powerful tool as interest rates climb on revolving debt like credit cards.
The increase in home equity has also helped limit the number of homeowners who end up "underwater" on their mortgage, or owing more on their loan than their home is worth. Also known as being in negative equity, that can happen when a home's value declines, or when the size of the mortgage increases, say when someone takes out a home equity loan.
In the second quarter, 1.3 million homes, or 2.3% of all U.S. homes with a mortgage, were in negative equity, CoreLogic said. That's down 18% from the same quarter last year.
The average homeowner with a mortgage saw equity increase by roughly $60,190 in the second quarter versus the same April-June quarter last year, CoreLogic said.
At the state level, Hawaii, California and Florida saw the largest average equity gains at $129,800, $117,000 and $100,000, respectively.
Among states with the lowest average equity gains: Iowa at around $18,000 and Alaska and North Dakota at $21,000 each.