Middle-income homeowners across the country built a median amount of $122,070 in wealth from home appreciation over the past decade, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Per the trade organization’s new “Wealth Gains by Income and Racial/Ethnic Group” report, property values for middle-income homeowners (those who earn between 80% and 200% of their area’s median income) grew by 68% from 2012 to 2022. Homeowners from every income bracket were able to reap the benefits of owning homes over the past decade, as low-income households accumulated a median amount of $98,910 and upper-income households gained $150,810.
“This analysis shows how homeownership is a catalyst for building wealth for people from all walks of life,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “A monthly mortgage payment is often considered a forced savings account that helps homeowners build a net worth about 40 times higher than that of a renter.”
In the top 10 areas with the highest homeownership rates for middle-income households, owners gained $110,000 on average in the last decade. But that figure is subject to significant geographic variation. Consider, for example, that in Ogden, Utah, where 85% of middle-income households own homes, homeowners gained nearly $220,000 in that time frame.
Among the metro areas with the highest homeownership rates for low-income households, homeowners gained $140,000 on average over the 10-year period. Again, that number is subject to substantial swings based on geography. In Prescott, Arizona, for example, where 68% of low-income households own homes, owners reaped about $200,000 in wealth from home value growth during the decade.
Of all racial demographics represented in NAR’s report, Black homeowners saw the smallest wealth gains over this time frame, building about $115,000 in wealth from home value growth. The NAR also identified the metro areas that saw the largest growth in wealth for Black homeowners. These include Bremerton, Washington; Santa Maria, California; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and Provo, Utah, where this cohort built a median of more than $500,000 in wealth since 2012.
To go along with these wealth gains, homeowners also saw a noteworthy decrease in debt over the past decade. Homeowners saw their debt drop by 21%, with Yun noting that many who refinanced to a rate below 4% since the COVID-19 pandemic may have paid off an even larger amount of their mortgage.