Seniors’ Home Equity Rises 3% in Q1

U.S. homeowners aged 62 and older saw a 3.1% increase in total home equity between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, driven by rising home values.

These older American homeowners sat on $6.3 trillion in total home equity at the end of the first quarter, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association and data analytics firm RiskSpan, Inc. That’s up from $6.13 trillion at the end of last year, and a new record by one metric: The Reverse Mortgage Market Index reached 227.07 last quarter, the highest level since NRMLA and RiskSpan developed the index in 2000.

The proprietary index tracks trends in home equity by taking seniors’ home values and subtracting outstanding mortgage debt; the resulting figure is then indexed against a baseline figure for 62-and-over equity in March 2000, the time of the metric’s debut.


NRMLA president and CEO Peter Bell framed home equity as a key tool for helping older folks update their homes in order to age in place. Bell also serves as president of the National Aging in Place Council, a trade group that advocates for seniors who want to remain at home as they age.

“Instead of moving out, various modifications, such as stairless entryways and wider bathroom doorframes, can be made to accommodate new mobility and accessibility needs,” he said. “The housing wealth our seniors have built up in their homes over the years, their home equity, can be used to update the family house into a space for living comfortably and independently for years to come.”

NRMLA and RiskSpan’s figure remains slightly more aggressive than other estimates: For example, Urban Institute researchers earlier this year pegged the accessible value of home equity for seniors at $3.6 trillion, accounting for mortgage lending limits and other factors.

Senior home equity has been steadily rising for most of this decade, dropping only in three quarters in 2010 and 2011 as the nation struggled to recover from the housing crisis and recession. NRMLA and RiskSpan’s stats also generally track with other projections of equity gains in the United States: Homeowners of all ages saw an increase in home equity of $766 billion from the last quarter of 2016 to the first of 2017, according to a June report from CoreLogic, with nearly 63% seeing some kind of gain and the average borrower taking home a rise of $14,000.

Written by Alex Spanko

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