Appreciation boosts number of local equity-rich homeowners

Don Fenley 

During the second quarter of this year, there were almost 65,501 outstanding mortgages in local zip codes. Of those, 20,237 were equity rich. That means they had a loan-to-value ratio of 50% or less. The regional share of equity-rich owners is almost 31%. 

It also means almost one-in-three owners with a mortgage have ample equity to be move-up and scale-down buyers as the housing market edges toward more balanced conditions later this year and into 2022. It’s also when lower lumber prices and increase construction should bump up new home inventory. Another factor is almost half of the owner-occupied households in our region are mortgage-free. But that’s another story. 

Homeowner equity has appreciated faster than normal during the past year and a half. The long-term local average is in the range of 2.5% to 3% per year. Last year the median sales price was up 11.1%. During the first seven months of this year, it was up 16.6%. That gives equity-rich owners an edge if they decide to go house hunting.  It also increases the perception of their wealth.  

The highest share of equity-rich owners is in five of the Kingsport-Bristol metro area’s eight zip codes and the two Greeneville zip codes. Those zip codes have a higher percentage of equity-rich owners than the national or regional average.  

Those in the Johnson City metro area’s six zip codes have percentages slightly under the 31% regional benchmark.  

The only group in a better buying position is cash buyers. 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at