In this Oct. 24, 2021 file photo, an under contract sign tops the sales placard for a house on the market in Denver. Credit: Dave Zalubowski / AP

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Mainers are building up equity in their homes, with the state’s largest city leading the Northeast by the share of equity-rich properties and the state seeing fewer homes that are seriously underwater, a new survey found.

Some 52.1 percent of homes in metropolitan Portland were equity-rich in the first quarter of this year, according to ATTOM, a real estate data company. That means the combined loan balances secured by the properties were less than half of their estimated market value. 

“Record levels of home equity provide financial security for millions of families and minimize the chance of another housing market crash like the one we saw in 2008,” Rick Sharga, executive vice president for ATTOM, said.

San Jose, California, topped the list at 74.4 percent of its properties being equity-rich. Forty five states saw their equity-rich levels rise from the fourth quarter of 2021 to this year’s fourth quarter. The percentage of seriously underwater homes increased in 28 states, but most of those rises were below 1 percent. 

Maine saw a decrease in the percentage of homes that were underwater. The percentage dropped from 4.4 to 3.1 percent of homes between the last three months of 2021 and the first three months of this year.

That’s a big turnaround from the height of the housing crisis in 2008, when about 30 percent of people owed more than their home was worth, according to Zillow, an online real estate company.

ATTOM said equity will likely continue to rise through the rest of 2022, although home price increases should moderate.

“Homeowners continue to benefit from rising home prices,” Sharga said.