Based on the headlines, home prices outpace wage growth. Indeed, in the last six years home prices increased 47 percent while wages rose 16 percent. What do these percentage changes actually mean for a typical homebuyer? How much did the typical salary increase in dollars? How much more do buyers need to pay for their monthly payment because of the price increase?
NAR calculated the monthly earnings for a typical employee in both 2018 and 2012. Respectively, using the median home prices in 2018 and 2012, we also computed the monthly payment for a typical home for both years. Then, we compared the change of the average monthly wages in dollars with the change of the monthly payment in the last 6 years.
Nationwide, the monthly earnings of a typical employee rose by $530 to $3,784 in the fourth quarter of 2018 from $3,256 six years earlier. In the meantime, the monthly payment increased by $354 to $1,114 in 2018 from $760 in 2012. Thus, although home prices increased nearly three times more than wages (in percentage points), homebuyers needed to spend less than their salary increase for the higher mortgage payment. Noticeably, homebuyers needed to spend nearly two thirds of their salary increase (above the 30% rule) for the higher mortgage payment.
Since all real estate is local, we calculated how much both the monthly wage and mortgage payment changed during 2012 and 2018 for the 100 largest metro areas.
In the last six years, the Seattle, WA and San Francisco, CA metro areas experienced the highest gains in wages. In both metro areas, the average monthly salary increased by $1,150 between 2012 and 2018. In the Seattle, WA metro area, the average monthly salary increased to $5,632 in the last quarter of 2018 from $4,479 six years earlier. However, in some metro areas, wages dropped. In the Tucson, AZ metro area, the average monthly earnings declined by $189. Similarly, in the Palm Bay, FL metro area the average monthly wages dropped by $172. Overall, the average monthly wages increased by $433 in the 100 largest metro areas.
In the meantime, home prices increased in all of the 100 largest metro areas except for the Bridgeport, CT metro area. As a result, current homebuyers need to pay a higher monthly mortgage payment for the same home compared to 2012. Among the 100 largest metro areas, San Jose, CA and San Francisco, CA metro areas experienced the highest increase in the monthly mortgage payment because of price appreciation. Specifically, in the San Jose, CA metro area, current homebuyers need to pay $2,428 per month more than in 2012 for the same home. However, overall, the monthly mortgage payment increased by $340 on average in the 100 largest metro areas.
Comparing the amount of the wage increase with the higher monthly mortgage payment, in 70 percent of the 100 largest metro areas, wages in dollars increased more than the mortgage payment. Moreover, in most of these metro areas, the increase of the mortgage payment accounted for less than 30 percent of the wage increase. For instance, in the Chicago, IL metro area the average monthly wage increased by $572 while the monthly mortgage payment rose by $326. Another example is the Dallas, TX metro area. In this area, homebuyers in 2018 earned $558 more every month than homebuyers in 2012 while the monthly mortgage payment increased $420 since 2012 because of the price appreciation.
See below the top 5 metro areas with the highest monthly income gains compared to the extra housing cost:
Nevertheless, the extra monthly housing cost exceeds the income gains in 30 percent of the 100 largest metro areas. For instance, in the San Jose, CA metro area, homebuyers in 2018 earned $549 more every month compared to the homebuyers in 2012. However, the monthly mortgage payment increased $2,428 since 2012 because of the price appreciation. This means that homebuyers will need to attribute a higher percentage of their monthly earnings to housing cost since their income gains are not enough to cover the extra housing cost.
Here are the top 5 metro areas where the extra housing cost exceeds income gains:
See below how much both the monthly wage and mortgage payment changed during 2012 and 2018 for each of the 100 largest metro areas.
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.
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.
Home price appreciation is an important topic in today’s economy. Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), we can analyze the gains and losses of property values over time. I estimated the median property values by state in 2017 using the FHFA index and the median property values from the (ACS). I then calculated the growth rate from 2005 -2017. 
The states with the highest estimated median property values in 2017 are Hawaii ($637,892), District of Columbia ($605,756), California ($522,431), Massachusetts ($396,992), and Colorado ($342,967).
The states with the lowest estimated median property values in 2017 are Alabama ($141,714), Oklahoma ($137,387), Arkansas ($129,902), West Virginia ($122,791) and Mississippi ($118,019).
On a regional level, the estimated price growth appears to be the strongest in the South, West, and Midwest. Price growth is weakest in the Northeast states. Overall, all regions are displaying growth in property values with only a few states showing no growth or loses. Below is a breakdown of the Census four regions by state.
In the South, which typically leads all regions in sales, Texas led the region with 63 percent estimated price growth from 2005 to 2017. Although Florida experienced strong price growth since 2012, home prices have only increased by 14 percent since 2005 when house prices were still generally at peak levels.
In the West, the least affordable region, Montana led all states with 71 percent price growth from 2005 to 2017. Despite the strong price growth in California since 2012, prices have only increased by 9 percent since 2005. Nevada shows a negative 5 percent price change over this time.
In the Midwest where affordability is most favorable, North Dakota led all states with 111 percent price growth from 2005 to 2017. The increase is likely due to the boom in shale oil production up until 2014 when oil prices started collapsing. Illinois, while having the smallest growth in the region had an estimated 7 percent price growth over this time.
In the Northeast where price growth is typically slow, Pennsylvania lead the region with a 40 percent price growth from 2005 to 2017. Rhode Island was the only state to have a decline of negative 4 percent price change over this time.
Click on the data visualization below to view the historical prices by state from 2005-2017.
 I used the FHFA expanded data set, not seasonally adjusted data.