From the hallowed pages of the Washington Post came news this week that home equity is on the rise.

Digging through the pile to find the pony, the Post reported on what it called “the least-publicized statistic” from Federal Reserve research on mortgage balances and home-value changes:

According to the Fed’s most recent “flow of funds” survey, homeowners’ net equity grew by nearly $1 trillion from the recession’s nadir in the first quarter of 2009 through the third quarter. From June 30 to Sept. 30, net equity rose by $418 billion.

That’s not all that impressive compared with the quarterly increases during the hyperinflationary housing boom years, but it could signal something important: After three years of unprecedented shrinkage in home equity — and three years of rapid expansions in the number of underwater borrowers with negative equity — there are signs that the down cycle may be shifting.

A study found that the overall negative equity rate among U.S. homeowners remained flat in the fourth quarter of 2009 – another indicator that the slippery slope of declining home equity may be leveling off.

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