MARKET PULSE – Local home equity performance tops TN and US levels

Don Fenley 

Although housing affordability and accessibility remains challenging, the first quarter equity status of outstanding mortgages testify to wealth production in today’s local market.

The equity positions of Tri-Cities area mortgaged properties outperformed both state and national levels during the first quarter. Six of the nine local markets included in ATTOM’s first quarter Home Equity & Underwater Report noted increases. Status of seriously underwater mortgages in all but two local markets also improved.

Since the first quarter of last year, the number of outstanding mortgages increase 7,676 to 101,478 in the nine local markets. Of those, 56.5% have equity rich status. That means the owner has 50% or more equity than the estimated value of the property, according to ATTOM’s analysis.

Since market share is the percentage of equity-rich, or seriously underwater properties, the biggest markets are not necessarily the best market share performers. That was the case in the current analysis. The top local equity-rich markets were Hawkins (63.8%) Unicoi (63.6%) and Greene (63.3%).

The only locals that did not have an increase from last year were Johnson, Washington TN, and Bristol VA.

Underwater properties are typically not included in the wealth building formula; however, when their market share is improving, it represents upward growth. The status of these properties is defined as the owner owing 25% more on than its estimated value.

Last year there were 2,619 underwater mortgages. During the first three months of this year, that number declined to 2,392. That gave the region a 2.4% underwater rate. The state rate is 2.8% and the U.S. rate is 4%. It’s not a perfect example of how homeownership builds wealth, but it shows even the locals who have some financial issues improved their position.

Seven of the nine local counties recorded underwater property improvements. The two that saw their share increase were Johnson and Washington TN counties.

The full ATTOM report can be found at

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