LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana market had the fourth-highest average mortgage debt in the country, according to data released Wednesday by credit reporting agency Experian.

Homeowners in the L.A. area owed $403,315 on average in the first quarter of the year — a 2.3% increase over the area’s debt last year, which averaged just over $400,000. Of the 10 regions with the highest debt, seven showed an increase over their 2018 first quarter averages.

The top 10 includes eight major metro areas in California, a reflection of California’s status as the state with the highest average mortgage debt in the nation during the first quarter with an average debt load of $363,537 per homeowner. Only the Washington, D.C. area outranked California with an average of $418,555.

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region led all major metro markets with an average $519,576 per homeowner, and increase of 3.9% over last year. The San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta and Santa Cruz-Watsonville markets rounded out the top five. The San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos region ranked sixth.

Combined mortgage debt in the United States has risen in the first quarter for each of the past six years, according to Experian. The country’s total mortgage debt in the first quarter of 2019 was $9.5 trillion.

“While mortgage debt numbers could be a cause for concern as buyers increasingly leverage their finances to purchases homes, other signs show they are more responsible with their mortgage debt than in years past,” Experian data analyst Matt Tatham wrote in a blog post regarding the company’s data. “And for consumers just starting their homebuying search, low interest rates and available inventory could make their search more rewarding, depending on local market conditions.”

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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