Buying vs. Renting

Most owners have earned more than $100,000 in equity over the last decade, but discrepancies among racial groups persists, according to new NAR data.

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Property appreciation has surged along with home prices in the last decade, giving most homeowners more than $100,000 in equity over that time period and lending further evidence that homeownership is an important avenue to build household wealth.

Middle-income homeowners have seen their properties appreciate by 68% since 2012, accumulating $122,100 in wealth, according to a new report from the National Association of REALTORS® released during the 2023 REALTOR® Broker Summit. Low-income homeowners who earn less than 80% of their area’s median income saw $98,900 in equity gains in the same time period, while upper-income households who earn more than 200% of their area’s median income accrued $150,800 in equity, according to NAR’s report, “Wealth Gains by Income and Racial/Ethnic Group.”

“This analysis shows how homeownership is a catalyst for building wealth for people from all walks of life,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “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.”

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Along with these wealth gains, homeowners also saw their debt drop by 21% over the last decade, the report shows. In recent years, many homeowners were able to refinance their mortgages and secure an interest rate below 4%. And because of those smaller monthly payments, many homeowners have paid off an even larger amount of their mortgage, the report notes.