A new analysis from ATTOM Data Solutions shows that from the first quarter of 2022 to the second, the percentage of mortgaged residential properties considered "equity-rich," meaning their estimated loan balances were no more than 50% of their market value, increased in 49 U.S. states.

The only state to see a decrease? New Jersey, where the ratio decreased from 38.6% to 37.9%.

Neither of those numbers came anywhere close to the current, overall national rate of 48.1% equity-rich homes — Vermont led the nation at 71.4% — but there doesn't seem to be one particular cause, said Rick Sharga, ATTOM executive vice president of market intelligence.

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"Homeowner equity in New Jersey has not kept pace with the rest of the country, probably a lot of questions as to why that's the case," Sharga said, noting that home prices across the United States have gone up for 124 consecutive months. "The fact that New Jersey saw the percentage go down certainly shows that it's running counter to the trends in much of the rest of the country."

Sharga also made note of the Garden State being on the wrong side of the ledger when it comes to seriously underwater mortgages, where property owners owe at least 25 percent more than a home's current estimated value.

And while that description only applies to 3% of mortgaged properties right now, it did go up one-tenth of a percent in the 2nd quarter, with several zip codes in the Philadelphia metro area reporting 25% or more seriously underwater homes.

But, as Sharga said, New Jersey is often a balancing act between its two big cities on either side.

"The New York metro actually benefits New Jersey a little bit from that perspective, so it really is a mixed bag, and New Jersey continues to be influenced pretty significantly, economically, by those two major metro areas," he said.

ATTOM is observing some recent migration from high-cost, high-tax areas to new addresses in the South, Southeast, and parts of the West.

That may affect New Jersey's numbers, because anytime the high cost of living is the topic, the state seems to be in the discussion.

"People are cashing in on whatever equity they have accrued, and using that equity to buy probably larger homes in less expensive markets," Sharga said.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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