The Chicago figure is the highest among the 20 largest metro areas in Attom’s study. In 15 of the 20, the figure is below four percent.
That is not to say the fast-paced housing market hasn’t helped. A year earlier, more than 10 percent of Chicago-area mortgages were seriously underwater. The difference in a year—about two percentage points—means that nearly 30,000 Chicago households rose out of seriously underwater status between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.
On the other end of the spectrum are people who are equity rich, meaning their equity stake in the home is at least half its current market value. In the Chicago area, 18.4 percent of homeowners with a mortgage were equity rich at the end of the first quarter, according to Attom. In 15 of the 20 largest metro areas, at least 25 percent of homeowners were equity rich.
Chicago therefore has the smallest share of homeowners who can easily afford to sell and…