Local homeowners see dramatic equity gains

Don Fenley 

GRAY, Tenn. – Remember hearing that a mortgage is a lot like a forced savings account that will make homeowners rich over time? 

There were a lot of Tri-Cities homeowners who said a hearty “amen” when they saw Attom Data Solution’s second-quarter home equity report. That’s because over half of the properties in almost every county in the Tri-Cities region had equity-rich status. Equity rich means the owner had a minimum of 50%. 

The only counties that fell under the new benchmark were Washington Co. TN and Washington Co. VA. And Washington Co. TN was almost at the 50% benchmark with 49.8% of the mortgaged properties being classified equity-rich. 

There were 53,141 mortgaged properties in the Tri-Cities region during the second quarter of this year. Of those 15,857 (54.7%) were equity-rich. If you look back to the second quarter of 2017 when the local housing market was beginning to heat up Sullivan and Johnson counties had bragging rights with 31% and 30% of the region’s mortgaged properties with an equity-rich status. 

Greene and Hawkins had the top two second-quarter spots with 57.5% and 55.9%. 

The dramatic equity growth for local homeowners is not typical. The average annual equity gain for the 18 years before 2017 was 2.3%. At that rate, the long-term equity gains would have produced a comfortable equity gain for homeowners. But from 2018 to 2021 gains were on steroids. They averaged 10.4% and year, and the first two quarters of this year are not an exception. 

This is one of the main reasons the average net worth of homeowners v. renters is staggering. According to the Federal Reserve, before the pandemic homeowners had a median net worth of $255,000, while a renters’ net worth was just $6,300.

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 https://netar.us