In more good news for the real estate market, thousands of Tampa Bay residents have regained equity in their homes.
As of the end of last year, 526,660 of all homes with mortgages were worth more than the amount owed, CoreLogic reported Thursday. That's 36,289 more than at the end of 2015.
That could prompt more people to put their properties up for sale, relieving the tight inventory that has been driving up bay area prices.
Nationally, slightly more than a million borrowers regained equity last year, leaving just 6.2 percent of mortgaged U.S. homes underwater. At the peak of the foreclosure crisis in 2009, more than 25 percent of all homes were in negative equity.
"The equity buildup has been supported by home-price growth and paydown of principal," said Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic's chief economist. "Gains were strongest in faster-appreciating and higher-priced home markets."
In the Tampa Bay area, where the median price of a house soared 14 percent last year, one sign of growing equity was a sharp drop in sales of distressed properties. Sales of bank-owned foreclosures plunged nearly 48 percent year over year while short sales — homes sold for less than the amount owed — declined by nearly 31 percent.
Tampa Bay started the new year with just a 2.7 month supply of available homes, making it a strong seller's market. That could change if borrowers with equity start listing their houses in greater numbers.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or 727-893-8642. Follow @susanskate.