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Middle-income households gained $122,000 in home value in decade

A cul-de-sac runs through a new housing development in Middlesex Township, Pa., on Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(The Hill) — Home price growth over the past decade drastically increased the wealth of homeowners across all income levels, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

NAR’s report found the value of homes middle-income homeowners purchased rose by more than $122,000 since 2012 — a gain of 68%. Low-income and upper-income homeowners accumulated $98,900 and $150,800 in higher home values, respectively.

Homeowners who lived in some of the nation’s most expensive metros, like San Jose, Calif., saw the largest gains. In the San Jose metro, low-income owners have accumulated nearly $630,000 in the last decade, and middle-income owners gained $643,000, according to the report. 

For the report, NAR used the American Community Survey’s Public Microdata Sample to estimate the homeownership rate and the median home value of homes owned across the income spectrum and racial and ethnic groups at the national and metro level. 

“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.”

Among racial and ethnic groups, Asian homeowners accumulated the largest wealth gain at $239,430. Black homeowners experienced the smallest 10-year gain at $115,430. 

The report also showed that alongside wealth gains, homeowners’ mortgage debt declined by 21 percent over the same 10-year period, and owners who refinanced during the pandemic boom when mortgage rates hit historic lows may have paid off an even greater amount of their mortgages. 

Mortgage rates increased by more than 2 percentage points from the pandemic lows while the Federal Reserve battled inflation with a string of interest rate hikes. After reaching more than 7 percent in the fall, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is down to 6.27 percent after four straight weeks of declines.

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