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Middle-income homeowners accumulated $122,100 in wealth as their homes appreciated by 68% over the last 10 years, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). However, the gains of the past decade varied across the country.

NAR’s data determined that low-income homeowners were able to build $98,900 in wealth in the last decade from home price appreciation only, while upper-income households saw an increase of $150,800. Black homeowners experienced the smallest wealth gains among racial or ethnic groups, although these owners accumulated an average of over $115,000 in wealth in the last decade.

Homeowners in expensive metro areas experienced the largest wealth gains. In the San Jose metro area, low-income owners have accumulated nearly $630,000 in the last decade while middle-income owners gained $643,000. All of the top 10 areas with the largest wealth gains for low-income owners – surpassing $290,000 – were California. In the areas with the highest homeownership rates for low-income households, wealth gains were $140,000 on average.

Also during the last decade, homeowners also saw their debt drop by 21%. Many homeowners who were able to refinance and secure a rate lower than 4% in the months following the onset of Covid-19 may have paid off an even larger amount of their mortgage.

“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.”