Guessing or even bragging a bit about how much our homes were worth was fun office or party talk a decade or so ago.
Kitchens were renovated. Swimming pools built. And new cars were bought by metro Phoenix homeowners, who tapped their equity to fund big-ticket purchases right before and during the housing boom.
Then came the crash in 2008, and we started talking about how much more we owed on our mortgage than our house was worth. Phrases like “upside down” and “underwater” dominated hushed conversations with friends and co-workers about homes in the Valley.
But that era is coming to an end. New data shows only 12.4 percent of Phoenix-area homeowners are upside down or underwater — owing more than their house is worth — according to national data firm CoreLogic.
I say “only” because almost 50 percent of Valley homeowners were upside down with their mortgages in 2011, when the market hit bottom.
Steadily rising home prices and falling foreclosures since 2012 have pulled many of us above water on our mortgages. Just a year ago, more than 17 percent of metro Phoenix homeowners owed more than theIr house was worth.
"In just the last four years, equity for (U.S.) homeowners with a mortgage has nearly doubled to $6.9 trillion," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic and former economist with government-owned mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
I couldn't find an updated figure for how much equity metro Phoenix homeowners have accrued since 2012, but the area’s median home price has climbed 56 percent since then.
If you want to see how much your home is worth now, check out Street Scout. But please remember, we don't know if you renovated your kitchen or put on a new roof. A real-estate agent or an appraiser can help you factor that into your home's value.
There still are 115,000 metro Phoenix homeowners underwater. Valley home prices need to climb another 11 percent to reach the height of the boom in 2006.
Metro Phoenix home prices climbed almost 10 percent last year.
Maybe by next summer, prices will rise enough to right most of the rest of the area’s upside-down homeowners.