Homeownership has been associated with positive social outcomes, and is also the largest source of wealth among homeowning households. In 2016, the median net worth among homeowners was $231,400, with housing wealth making up 85 percent of wealth (average net housing wealth was $197,500).
Housing wealth contributes positively to the homeowner’s and children’s economic condition, because home equity can be tapped for expenditures such as investing in another property (which can generate rental income), home renovation (which further increases the home value), a child’s college education, emergency or major life events, or expenses in retirement.
Housing wealth (or net worth or equity) is built up over time via the home price appreciation and the principal payments that the homeowner makes on the loan. The chart shows the change in housing wealth (equity) as of 2018 for a home buyer who purchased a typical single-family existing home in the United States 5, 10, 15, or 30 years ago. Over these holding periods, most of the wealth gains are from the appreciation in home values. For example, if one purchased a home five year ago (2013), a home buyer would have typically gained $79,488 in wealth (equity), of which $64,200, or 81 percent is from the home price appreciation ($197,400 in 2013 to $261,600 in 2018). Homeowners who move typically do so in 10 years, so a homeowner who bought a home 10 years ago (2008) would have $91,081 in home equity gains as of 2018). The longer the holding period, the larger the increase in wealth due to home price appreciation and the cumulative principal payments, which reduce the loan balance.
If you had purchased a home just five years ago in these metro areas, here are the typical gains in home equity that you have due to home price appreciation and the principal payments you’ve made:
Metro areas with home equity gains of $200,000 or over for a home purchased 5 years ago:
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara: $620, 410
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward: $393,561
Boulder, CO: $264,395
Anaheim-Sta. Ana-Irvine, CA: $218,773
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA: $216,613
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA: $205,659
Metro areas with lowest equity gains (loss) for a home purchased 5 years ago:
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ: ($8,593)
New Jersey City-White Plains, NJ-NY: $3,336
Cumberland, MB-WV: $6,215
Trenton, NJ: $7943
Elmira, NY: $8,705
Use this data visualization to explore the typical increase in housing wealth across metro areas as of 2018 if you purchase a home 5, 10, 15, 30 years ago. These are typical gains and are illustrative of the magnitude of the wealth gains over time. Actual wealth gains will vary by property:
 Lawrence Yun and Nadia Evangelou, Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, Realtor® University The Journal of the Center for Real Estate Studies; https://realtoru.edu/real-estate-studies/journal/
 Federal Reserve Board, 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances
 Brad Finkelstein, 7 reasons why consumers are tapping into home equity, The American Banker, June 26, 2018; https://www.americanbanker.com/7-reasons-why-homeowners-are-tapping-into-their-home-equity
 The price appreciation can be thought of as ‘capital gains’ while the principal payments can be thought of as a conversion from liquid asset (cash) to an illiquid asset (house).
 To be clear, these are changes in wealth or home equity between two time period or over n holding periods. If one wants the level of the home equity at a point in time, one has to add the down payment.
 These calculations are illustrative of the magnitude of the housing wealth gains; actual change in home equity will vary by home.
Homebuying activity was essentially unchanged in January 2019 compared to one year ago, according to NAR’s January 2019 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey. The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered 52 in January 2019, just slightly above 50, a level that indicates no change in the overall direction of buyer traffic activity, One year ago, the REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index was at 69, a level that indicates homebuying traffic was broadly stronger compared to conditions one year ago. A lower index in one month compared to the level in another month slower activity during that former month, so the steep decline in the value of the index from 69 to 52 indicates homebuying conditions have slowed significantly from conditions one year ago. The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index has fallen below leads existing home sales by one to two months, so the January reading is an indicator of sales in the next one to two months.
Buyer traffic was broadly weaker during November and December 2018 and January 2019 compared to conditions one year ago in the District of Columbia and in states 16 states that included Oregon, California, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. However, buyer traffic conditions were broadly stronger during November and December 2018 and January 2019 compared to conditions one year ago in Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index has hovered at near 50 since August 2018 when the index fell to 51 and remained at below 50 through December 2018. The January reading of 52 indicates a slight upturn in homebuyer traffic as mortgage rates started falling in January 2019. As of the week of February 14, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 4.37 percent, from a high of 4.94 in the weeks of November 8 and 15.
Higher mortgage rates compared to one year ago, the negative effect on confidence of the government shutdown, the cap on deductions for property, state, and local income taxes, and the very cold weather were some factors cited by the respondents for the slowdown in buyer activity in their markets.
Respondents from some Midwest states— Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana— reported that the extremely cold weather held homebuying activity.
Some respondents from California, New York, and New Jersey reported the cap on deductions for property, state and local income taxes is negatively affecting sales.
A respondent from California also noted that the widespread wildfires in 2018 are still impacting home sales.
Respondents from Alabama, California, Nevada, Florida, Texas, and Virginia reported that the government shutdown appeared to have had an impact in homebuying activity.
Lack of supply, especially of affordable homes, continues to frustrate would-be homebuyers.
REALTORS® reported that higher mortgage rates (during October, November and December) discouraged buyers
To note, mortgage rates have started falling again since January 2019. As of February 14, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has fallen to 4.37 percent from 4.8 percent during the weeks of November 8 and 15. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is still slightly higher compared to the 3.95 percent in January 2018. The monthly increase in mortgage payment arising from a 0.5 percent increase in mortgage rates on a loan of $250,000 is about $73 per month.
In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, NAR asks respondents “Compared to the same month (January) last year, how would you rate the past month’s traffic in neighborhood(s) or area(s) where you make most of your sales?” NAR compiles the responses into an index, where an index above 50 indicates that more respondents reported “stronger” traffic than “weaker” traffic. In generating the buyer traffic index at the state level, NAR uses data for the last three surveys to have close to 30 observations. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C., may have fewer than 30 observations. The index is not seasonally adjusted, so a year-over-year comparison is appropriate.
 The index is not seasonally adjusted, so a year-over-year comparison is appropriate compared to a month-to-month comparison in evaluating whether market conditions are improving or deteriorating.
 Freddie Mac’s survey of 30-year fixed rate mortgages
Bloomberg reported that 876,000 acres were burned in California due to wildfires, citing data form the California Department of Forestry and Fire and Protection in Now California Wildfires Burn All Year; see https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-17/california-fires-burn-all-year-as-drought-left-state-a-tinderbox
 Rates started falling after Chairman Powell of the Federal Reserve Board announced in December 2018 that it was looking at one rate hike in 2019.
In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, respondents reported that properties were typically on the market for 42 days (36 days in October 2018; 40 days in November 2017), according to the November 2018 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey. Properties are staying longer on the market due to slower demand with mortgage rates rising and with new home construction steadily, though modestly, rising.
During September–November 2018, properties typically stayed on the market for 31 to 45 days in California, Oregon, Arizona and Texas, a slower pace compared to less than one month in previous months (Map 1). However, properties continue to sell in less than 31 days in the District of Columbia (28 days) and in 16 states such as Washington (28 days), Nevada (28 days), Utah (23 days), Colorado (26 days), and Massachusetts (27 days).
Properties typically stayed longer on the market in September-November 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 (blue areas) in the District of Columbia and in 22 states such as California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas (Map 2).
Properties are staying longer on the market due to the combination of lower demand and the steady increase in new home construction. In states such as California, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the number of building permits increased during November 2017-October 2018 compared to the prior 12-month period (Map 3).  In generating the median days on market at the state level, NAR uses data for the last three surveys to have close to 30 observations. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C., may have fewer than 30 observations.
In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, respondents reported that properties were typically on the market for 29 days, just a day shorter time compared to one year ago (30 days), according to the August 2018 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey. This indicates that in many states, the supply of homes for sale is still inadequate compared to the demand for homes. However, the difference in median days in the current month compared to the same month last year has started to narrow as homebuying demand has eased and the inventory of homes for sale has slightly increased. In January and February of this year, properties were selling about one week less compared to the length of time in the same period one year ago.
During the June–August 2018, properties typically sold within one month in 32 states and in the District of Columbia. Properties sold most quickly in the states of South Dakota (19 days), Washington (20 days), Colorado (21 days), Utah (21 days), Ohio (21 days), Idaho (22 days), Massachusetts (21 days), and Rhode Island (21 days).
Based on listing time on Realtor.com, properties sold more quickly in 385 out of 500 metro areas (77 percent)—still most of metro areas, but fewer than the number of metro areas that had year-on-year faster selling time in August 2017 (405 metros). Compared to the median days on market one year ago, properties sold more quickly in August 2018 even in the high-price areas of San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara, San Francisco-Hayward, and San Diego-Carlsbad.
Scroll down the list of metro areas in the interactive table below or hover over the map to view the median number days properties were listed on Realtor.com in July 2018 and one year ago.
About the Realtors® Confidence Index Survey
The RCI Survey gathers information from REALTORS® about local market conditions based on their client interactions and the characteristics of their most recent sales for the month. The August 2018 survey was sent to 50,000 REALTORS® who were selected from NAR’s1.3 million members through simple random sampling and to 8,386 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses. There were 4,639 respondents to the online survey which ran from September 1-11, 2018. NAR weights the responses by a factor that aligns the sample distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership. The REALTORS® Confidence Index is provided by NAR solely for use as a reference. Resale of any part of this data is prohibited without NAR’s prior written consent. For questions on this report or to purchase the RCI series, please email: Data@realtors.org.
 In generating the median days on market at the state level, NAR uses data for the last three surveys to have close to 30 observations. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C., may have fewer than 30 observations.
In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, respondents are asked “Compared to the same month last year, how would you rate the past month’s traffic in neighborhood(s) or area(s) where you make most of your sales?” Respondents rate buyer traffic as “Stronger” (100), “Stable” (50), or “Weaker” (0), and the responses are compiled into a diffusion index. An index greater than 50 means that more respondents reported “stronger” than “weaker” conditions.
The chart below shows buyer traffic conditions in March–May 2018 compared to conditions one year ago, according to the May 2018 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey. REALTORS® reported that buyer conditions were “stable” to “very strong” compared to conditions one year ago, except in Alaska. REALTORS® reported that demand was “very strong” in May 2018 compared to the same month last year in in the District of Columbia and in 26 states, led by Wyoming, Idaho, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Utah, New Hampshire, Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan, Colorado, Indiana, Washington, South Carolina, and Massachusetts.
Housing demand is in part driven by population and employment growth. During 2010‒2017, the West and South region states had the fastest population growth, led by Texas (12.6%), North Dakota (12.3%), Utah (12.2%), Colorado (11.5%), Nevada (11.0%), and Washington (10.1%), Arizona (9.8%), Idaho (9.5%), and Oregon (8.1%).
The states in the West and South regions also had the strongest employment growth in May 2018 compared to one year ago. Nationally, employment rose 1.6 percent, but employment in these states rose above the national average, led by Utah (3.6%), Washington (2.9%), Idaho (2.9%), Colorado (2.8%), Arizona (2.8%), Texas (2.8%), Florida (2.2%), and West Virginia (2.6%).
Strong demand in these states has bolstered home prices, especially in California, which has 11 of the top 20 priciest metro areas in May 2018. Scroll down the interactive data table visualization below to check out the priciest metro areas in May 2018.
 In generating the indices, NAR uses data for the last three surveys to have close to 30 observations. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C., may have fewer than 30 observations. For graphical purposes, index values from 25.01 to 45 are labeled “Weak,” values of 45.01 to 55 are labeled “Stable,” values of 55.01 to 75 are labeled “Strong,” and values greater than 75 are labeled “Very Strong.”