Homeowners gained $20,000 in wealth in 2020

Soaring home values and unprecedented buyer demand meant property owners pocketed substantially last year.

Homeowners in 2020 gained more than $20,000 in wealth as home prices soared and buyer demand remained strong across the nation.

Home prices nationwide increased in February 2021 faster than in January, and continued to appreciate at higher-than-2020 average monthly rates, according to recent data released by Red Bell Real Estate, LLC, a subsidiary of Radian Group Inc. Home prices nationally rose from the end of January 2021 to the end of February 2021 at an annualized rate of 8.2%, which increased homeowner wealth.

February 2020 was the last month before pandemic-related shutdowns were implemented nationally. One year past that transition, home prices have shown tremendous resiliency in aggregate. The Radian Home Price Index (HPI) rose 8.3% year-over-year between February 2020 and February 2021. In comparison, the year-over-year period from February 2019 through February 2020 recorded a 7.4% increase in home prices nationally.

Nationally, the median estimated price for single-family and condominium homes rose to $272,186, representing a more than $20,800 increase in wealth over the $251,384 median estimate at the end of February 2020. This means that the average U.S. homeowner gained more than $20,000 in wealth last year due to strong home price appreciation, and home prices rose an annualized 9.3% over the last six months, according to the study. This change represents a strong increase over the prior six-month appreciation rate of just 6.9%.

Housing markets continue to be buoyed by ongoing imbalances between housing supply and demand. February 2021 continued a streak of records broken, both by setting the record for lowest number of active listings in any February, as well as for the highest number of sales in a February. Moreover, the absorption of inventory was brisk. The number of sales equated to 27% of the number of active listings, suggesting a very strong demand for inventory.

Similar to the national reporting, all U.S. regions reported positive price appreciation in residential markets in February 2021. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions were particularly resilient in what are normally down months for housing activity. While appreciation rates in these markets were comparable to those recorded over the last four months, it is more common to see some slowing of appreciation during winter months in these areas. The Midwest did record the weakest regional appreciation rate, and was weaker than prior months. The Southwest and West were the top performing regions in February.

At the state level, home price appreciation was positive in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia; however,
20 of the 51 states reported slower monthly appreciation in February when compared to the prior month. Home price appreciation momentum differs by state.

All of the 20 largest metro areas in the U.S. reported positive price appreciation in February as compared to January 2021. Three metros—New York, Philadelphia and Boston—recorded slower annualized price appreciation month over month. It is striking that 17 of the 20 largest metro areas report higher rates of appreciation than in the month prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. in early 2020. These metros grew faster in February 2021 than they did in February of 2020. To put that in perspective, the start of 2020 was the strongest on record following the Great Recession, as housing markets were very strong prior to the pandemic and reflected the broad strength of housing market prices.

In just the first two months of 2021, the average median estimated price of homes in the 20 largest metros is greater by almost $5,000, which is a 78% increase over last year’s estimate of $2,800 for the same period. The Radian HPI is calculated based on the estimated values of more than 70 million unique addresses each month, covering all single-family property types and geographies.