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Numerous articles have reported that homeowners are underwater and that strategic defaults are increasing. However, a little known statistic by the Federal Reserve shows that home equity again is on the rise.
MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS
- The Federal Reserve conducts substantial research on mortgage balances and home-value changes in hundreds of local markets nationwide and reports its finding quarterly. According to the Fed’s most recent “flow of funds” survey, homeowners’ net equity increased by nearly $1 trillion compared with the recession’s lowest point between the first and third quarters of 2009. From June 30 to Sept. 30, net equity rose by $418 billion.
- According to a report by Zillow.com, the overall negative equity rate among U.S. homeowners remained flat in the fourth quarter at 21.4 percent. This report, combined with other housing factors and studies, may indicate that the unprecedented reduction in home equity is shifting.
Some homeowners, especially those in areas with high foreclosure rates, are choosing to strategically default on their mortgages, even though they can afford the mortgage. Many homeowners who choose this approach do so because they do not see an economic rationale in continuing to make their mortgage payments. Homeowners considering this option should be aware of the negative effect it will have on their credit status. Foreclosures can remain on credit reports for up to seven years, likely increasing the interest rates the consumer pays for credit, and making it more difficult to receive approval on a new mortgage loan.