- 2021 home value growth exceeded median salaries in 25 of 38 major metros.
- Appreciation on the typical home ranged from the equivalent of an oral surgeon’s income in San Jose to that of a food preparation worker in Philadelphia.
- Annual rent payments grew by more than $3,000, while down payments increased by more than $10,000.
The term “household income” was given new meaning in 2021 as a banner year for home appreciation found houses themselves earning more than the median worker in major metros across the country. 2021 was a year of haves and have-nots, and the chasm between the two widening throughout. Those who owned a home saw their household wealth increase dramatically. But many renters witnessed that dream either soar out of reach or had to drastically adjust their expectations and plans.
Home value appreciation in 2021 was higher than median wages in 25 of 38 major metropolitan areas, with appreciation reaching higher than $100,000 in 11 of them. Though San Jose has the highest median salary at $93,000, it also led all major metros in annual home value appreciation — with the typical home growing a whopping $229,277 over 2021, nearly what oral surgeons make.
Expensive coastal markets in California and Hawaii saw home value growth wallop incomes by the largest amounts. San Jose led but San Francisco closely followed, with homes earning $129,914 more than the median salary. Boise, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Phoenix rounded out the top 10.
Metropolitan areas with the lowest home price appreciation relative to median salaries were Detroit, St. Louis and Baltimore, though even the smallest home value growth among these metros, in St. Louis, was still higher than $27,000.
While homeowners watched their assets multiply in 2021, the chasm separating many renters from homeownership widened, as home prices skyrocketed and rising rents eroded their ability to save for a down payment.
Rents rose 16% across the U.S. in 2021 and upward of 25% in popular Sun Belt locales like Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Locking in a one-year lease on a typical U.S. rental cost $3,072 more at the end of the year than the start of the year. It was $7,104 more in Miami, $4,644 more in Phoenix and $4,380 more in Las Vegas — major hits to a household budget, as that money can’t be saved toward a down payment.
At the same time, down payments — often the highest hurdle to homeownership for first-time buyers — rose by more than $10,000 in 2021 for a typical 30-year fixed mortgage. Sticking with our metros used in the rent comparison, typical down payments rose nearly $14,500 in Miami, more than $20,600 in Phoenix and $16,700 in Las Vegas.
|Metro Area*||Home Value Growth December 2020 – December 2021||Median Pretax Income, 2021**||Home Value Growth Minus Median Income||2021 Rise in Full-Year Rent Payments||U.S. Profession That Made an Income Closest to 2021 Home Value Growth***|
|United States||$52,667||$50,000||$2,667||$3,072||Directors, religious activities and education|
|New York– Newark— Jersey City||$63,928||$60,000||$3,928||$4,656||Judicial law clerks|
|Los Angeles– Long Beach– Anaheim||$131,979||$50,000||$81,979||$3,924||Judges, magistrates|
|Chicago– Naperville– Elgin||$34,918||$57,000||-$22,082||$2,028||Other protective service workers|
|Dallas–Fort Worth– Arlington||$69,488||$50,000||$19,488||$3,156||Human resource specialists|
|Houston– The Woodlands– Sugar Land||$45,250||$50,000||-$4,750||$2,004||Dental laboratory technicians|
|Washington, D.C.– Arlington-Alexandria||$56,163||$75,000||-$18,837||$2,700||Loading machine operators, underground mining|
|Miami– Fort Lauderdale– West Palm Beach||$72,053||$40,000||$32,053||$7,104||Public relations specialists|
|Philadelphia– Camden– Wilmington||$39,994||$60,000||-$20,006||$2,160||Supervisors of food preparation and serving workers|
|Atlanta– Sandy Springs– Roswell||$73,036||$50,000||$23,036||$4,008||Soil and plant scientists|
|Phoenix– Mesa– Scottsdale||$103,470||$52,000||$51,470||$4,644||Education administrators, K–2|
|Boston– Cambridge– Newton||$76,616||$66,852||$9,764||$3,948||Arbitrators, mediators|
|San Francisco–-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$204,914||$75,000||$129,914||$3,540||General internal medicine physicians|
|Riverside–-San Bernardino–-Ontario, CA||$111,014||$45,000||$66,014||$4,560||Air transportation workers|
|Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI||$29,675||$57,000||-$27,325||$1,644||Gambling cage workers|
|Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA||$131,129||$65,000||$66,129||$3,816||Computer and information research scientists|
|Minneapolis–-St. Paul–-Bloomington, MN-WI||$39,942||$60,000||-$20,058||$1,020||Gambling surveillance officers|
|San Diego–-Carlsbad, CA||$160,493||$54,703||$105,790||$4,932||Computer and information systems managers|
|Tampa–-St. Petersburg–-Clearwater, FL||$74,754||$46,000||$28,754||$5,292||Criminal justice teachers, postsecondary|
|Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO||$108,922||$65,000||$43,922||$2,928||Electrical engineers|
|St. Louis, MO-IL||$27,741||$50,000||-$22,259||$1,428||Cooks and food preparation workers|
|Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD||$36,984||$60,000||-$23,016||$2,316||Medical assistants|
|Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC||$71,804||$57,000||$14,804||$3,384||Commercial divers|
|Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL||$64,638||$44,384||$20,254||$4,380||Set and exhibit designers|
|San Antonio–-New Braunfels, TX||$54,769||$46,966||$7,803||$2,292||Counselors|
|Portland-Hillsboro-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA||$83,283||$60,000||$23,283||$2,520||Speech-language pathologists|
|Las Vegas–-Henderson-Paradise, NV||$83,894||$46,000||$37,894||$4,380||Nuclear technicians|
|Kansas City, MO-KS||$40,846||$50,000||-$9,154||$1,368||Mixing and blending machine setters, operators|
|San Jose–-Sunnyvale–-Santa Clara, CA||$229,277||$93,000||$136,277||$3,108||Oral and maxillofacial surgeons|
|Nashville-Davidson-–-Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN||$84,395||$50,000||$34,395||$3,372||Emergency management directors|
|Providence-Warwick, RI-MA||$66,657||$55,000||$11,657||$2,364||Court reporters and simultaneous captioners|
|Oklahoma City, OK||$26,866||$44,044||-$17,178||$1,584||Food preparation workers|
|New Orleans–-Metairie, LA||$31,945||$47,000||-$15,055||$2,628||Textile machine setters, operators, and tenders|
|Salt Lake City, UT||$119,539||$53,638||$65,901||$3,156||Computer network architects|
|Birmingham-Hoover, AL||$31,968||$50,000||-$18,032||$1,476||Helpers – production workers|
|Urban Honolulu, HI||$138,254||$51,000||$87,254||$2,820||Operations specialties managers|
|Omaha–-Council Bluffs, NE-IA||$31,114||$50,000||-$18,886||$1,236||Funeral attendants|
|Albuquerque, NM||$47,215||$45,000||$2,215||$2,736||Educational instruction and Library workers, all others|
|Boise City, ID||$124,979||$50,000||$74,979||$3,240||Health specialties teachers, postsecondary|
*Table ordered by size rank
** Median inflation-adjusted pre-tax wage and salary income data from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement
*** Occupation income data from May 2020 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates