How Much is Your Home Worth?

U.S. property values increase by $1.7 trillion in 2014.

Property home values increased in 2014

The online housing experts at Zillow report that 2014 was definitely a banner year for homeowners, as property values increased by $1.7 trillion over the past twelve months. That’s a 6.7 increase in home values overall – and that’s just an average. In some areas hardest hit by the 2009 market implosion, the percentage of growth was in the double digits.

Here’s the Top Ten List for cities that saw highest value increases for the year:

  1. Houston, Texas 11.5%
  2. Atlanta, Georgia 10.5%
  3. San Jose, California 10.2%
  4. Austin, Texas 9.9%
  5. Denver, Colorado 9.5%
  6. Miami / Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 9.3%
  7. Las Vegas, Nevada 8.8%
  8. San Francisco, California 8.5%
  9. New York / Northern New Jersey 8.2%
  10. Riverside, California 8.2%

“Increases in property values are always good news for homeowners,” says Maria Gaitan, Housing and Business Development Manager for Consolidated Credit, “People are finally starting to recover from the equity loss of the market collapse. This means higher selling prices and more equity to borrow against for seniors and HELOC users.”

5 benefits of higher property values

For the past few years, there’s a good chance you’ve been a little depressed after you looked at the value of home. As the real estate market collapsed, property values fell. As a result, millions of homeowners ended up with zero equity – or worse. Now that the market is recovering so strongly, it means good things for most homeowners.

Here are a few…

  1. A light at the end of the tunnel underwater mortgage holders! For the most part, properties are returning to their pre-recession values, so homeowners no longer have to worry about owing more than the property is actually worth. This is what happens when the remaining balance on your mortgage is higher the assessed value of the home, and it can cause problems if you want to refinance or sell.
  2. High sale prices for sellers. With property values in full recovery, chances are good that you can finally sell your home for more than your purchased it for. Turning a profit on the sale of your home can help you buy a bigger/better property or give you more money for other investments.
  3. More equity for HECM users. Reverse mortgage programs like HECM allow seniors over a certain age to take advantage of the equity in their homes without the burden of monthly payments, but this only works if you have equity to actually use. Higher property values mean you should have more money available if you take out a reverse mortgage.
  4. More equity for HELOC users. Home equity lines of credit (HELOC, for short) are gaining popularity again because homeowners have equity that they can actually access now for the loan. Just be careful if you borrow against your home, even if the value is higher now.
  5. Higher net worth. Net worth is the measure of your wealth calculated by taking the value of all of your assets and subtracting the amount owed on any outstanding debt. Higher net worth can mean you have any easier time qualifying for financing on other major assets, while improving your overall financial outlook.

Of course, just because your property value increased in 2014, it doesn’t mean you should be free and loose with any equity gains you’ve had. Always think carefully before you make any purchasing, selling or lending decisions. If you’re ever in doubt, contact a HUD-approved housing counselor to discuss your situation so you can ensure you’re making the right choices.

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