An additional million homeowners regained equity in 2015, bringing the number of mortgaged properties with equity to 91.5% or 46.3 million, CoreLogic said.
There were still 4.3 million properties with negative equity in the fourth quarter, representing an increase of 2.9% compared to the third quarter. But that was 19.1% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The 8.5% share of underwater mortgages at the end of 2015 compares to a peak of 26% in the fourth quarter of 2009.
The five states with the highest percentage of negative equity properties accounted for 30.8% of the negative equity across the county, but only 16.5% of outstanding mortgages.
Borrower equity rose by $682 billion in the fourth quarter compared to the final quarter of 2014, about an 11.5% increase. That was the 13th-straight quarter of double-digit equity growth, CoreLogic said.
The increase in equity reflects rising home prices, but also “continued deleveraging,” CoreLogic said. Homeowners are paying more toward their mortgages and taking out less equity than they have in the past.