Homeowners in LA's hottest zip codes are building the most equity

Homeowners in hot heighborhoods like Atwater Village are watching their home equity rise.
Homeowners in hot heighborhoods like Atwater Village are watching their home equity rise.
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A growing number of Los Angeles homeowners are building sizable equity in their property as values continue to rise to post-recession heights, a new study finds.

Across Los Angeles, 40 percent of homeowners are "equity-rich," meaning they own outright more than half the estimated market value of their home and have a mortgage on the rest. Nationwide, only San Francisco and San Jose has a higher share of these homeowners. 

Attom Data Solutions reports that L.A.’s most popular zip codes have the largest share of equity-rich homeowners — roughly 60 percent in Venice, Culver City, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Atwater Village.

Kurt Wisner of the Atwater Village-based firm Kurt & Courtney recently sold a two-bedroom, one-bath Spanish-style home for $960,000.
"That same home five years ago would have sold for $680,000, so it’s pretty dramatic," Wisner said. 

But not everybody is a winner.

A below-average share of homeowners are equity-rich in Lancaster and Palmdale, which are still recovering from the housing crisis.

On the upside, ATTOM Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist said the fallout from a decade ago has taught homeowners to be more prudent and far fewer are taking out lines of credit against their house. 

"Homeowners are not treating their homes like an ATM to the extent they were the last housing boom," Blomquist said. 

Another equity-building trend Blomquist has noticed is that baby boomers in Southern California are staying in their homes longer. 

"Homeowners, even those nearing retirement, are resistant to moving and say, 'Why should I give up this great investment in this great location?'" Blomquist said.

So they keep building nest eggs — great for them, not good for buyers trying to break into the market.