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KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

Housing boom makes many Mountain West homeowners ‘equity rich’

The front exterior of a single-story home for sale in Northwest Reno. A sign for a local realtor is also visible on the property’s front lawn.
Kaleb Roedel
KUNR Public Radio
Homes for sale in Nevada, like this one seen earlier this year in Reno, are not lasting long on the market due to an influx of cash buyers snapping up homes. That’s leading to surging home prices, which is boosting homeowner equity.

A new report shows Americans have more equity in their homes than ever, and some of the highest levels of equity-rich property owners are in the Mountain West.

There’s a record $27 trillion in homeowner equity in the U.S., according to real estate data analyst Attom. In fact, thanks to the supercharged housing market, nearly half of all homeowners with mortgages are considered “equity rich” after the first quarter of 2022. That means they owe less than 50% of their property’s market value.

Idaho leads the country, with nearly 70% of the state’s homeowners falling in that category. Utah and Arizona ranked third and fourth, respectively, where more than 60% of property owners owe less than half of the property’s value. The number’s over 50% in Colorado and Nevada, ranked 12th and 13th.

Rick Sharga, Attom’s executive vice president of market intelligence, says the Mountain West stands out in part because its fast-growing states have drawn an influx of cash buyers snapping up homes.

“What we’ve seen really is a migration of people from higher-cost states who are selling their homes, taking the cash and buying bigger homes that are much less expensive in states like Idaho and Utah or Arizona,” Sharga said.

That’s not happening as much in Wyoming, where just a quarter of the state’s homeowners are considered equity rich. That’s the fifth-lowest mark in the nation.

Meanwhile, New Mexico saw the largest increase in equity-rich homeowners, jumping from 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 43.4% in the first quarter of 2022. Montana ranked fifth in that category, climbing from 40.5% to 45.7%.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist who joined KUNR as a reporter in November 2021.
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