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Do you live in an equity rich area of Tampa Bay? A lot of homeowners do

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times A multi-million dollar home in St. Petersburg's Snell Isle, part of the ZIP code area with most equity rich properties in Tampa Bay.
Published Nov. 13, 2018

St. Petersburg's Snell Isle and Old Northeast and Tampa's Westshore and Palma Ceia areas show the value of home ownership: The ZIP codes encompassing those areas have the highest percentages of homes that are "equity rich.''

Even as the robust housing market begins to cool, a new analysis shows that the number of equity rich properties --- those worth at least 50 percent more than the mortgaged amount -- hit a five-year high nationally in the third quarter of this year.

"As homeowners stay put longer, they continue to build more than equity in their homes despite the recent slowing in rates of home price appreciation," said Daren Blomquist of ATTOM Data Solutions, which did the analysis.

Tampa Bay, where prices have shot up dramatically since 2015, has fared even better than many other parts of the country. Of the 96 bay area ZIPs surveyed, more than half have a higher percentage of equity rich properties than the 25.7 percent national rate. The top overall is Pinellas County's ZIP 33704, which includes such sought-after neighborhoods close to downtown St. Petersburg as the Old Northeast and Crescent Lake. In that ZIP, nearly 40 percent of all homeowners with mortgages are considered equity rich.Close behind in Pinellas are ZIPs 33785 (Indian Rocks Beach), 33706 (St. Pete Beach), 346798 (Dunedin) and 333701 (downtown St. Petersburg).

Overall, Pinellas came out best in the survey. Of its 41 ZIPS, 40 boasted equity rich homes compared to 15 out of 43 ZIPs in Hillsborough and none in Hernando and Pasco.

Somewhat surprisingly, Hillsborough's 33607 ZIP encompassing the Westshore area led that county with 35 percent of its homeowners owing far less than their properties are worth. Long considered a business and shopping district, Westshore has sprouted many high-end condos in recent years. The ZIP also includes much of West Tampa, where long-time homeowners have built up equity as prices rise.

Other equity rich Hillsborough ZIPs: 33629 (Palma Ceia), 33606 (Davis Islands), 33634 (Town 'N Country) and 33603, an area straddling the Hillsborough River that includes River Heights and South Seminole Heights.

The ATTOM analysis also looked at the reverse of equity rich homes -- those "seriously underwater" because their owners owe at least 25 percent more than the the value of the home. By far the most underwater ZIP in the Tampa Bay area is 33605, which includes Ybor City. Although prices have begun to rise on hopes the Tampa Bay Rays will build a new stadium in Ybor, 32 percent of owners there owe much more than their homes are worth compared to less than 9 percent nationally.

In three other Hillsborough ZIPs, about 20 percent of homes are seriously underwater: 33610, an area east of Nebraska Avenue, 33614 (Drew Park) and 33637 (Temple Terrace). No ZIPS in Pinellas, Hernando and Pasco exceeded 17 percent.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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