Soaring home values are thrilling for homeowners who can watch their wealth increase without lifting a finger. A new study by Zillow found that home price appreciation in 25 metro areas last year exceeded the median salary in those locations.

According to Zillow’s study, the median home value growth was more than $100,000 in 11 of the 38 major metro areas analyzed by the researchers. The amount of price appreciation was highest in high-cost housing markets like the Seattle-Tacoma region, where the median home price grew $131,129 between December 2020 and December 2021. The median salary was $65,000, meaning, according to Zillow’s analysis, the median home made $66,129 more than the median resident in 2021.

San Jose, California, topped the list with a median growth of $229,277 between December 2020 and December 2021, according to Zillow. The median salary in San Jose was $93,000 in 2021. That means homes in San Jose earned $136,277 more than the median worker.

Nationally, the median house appreciation was $52,667 in 2021, which is $2,667 more than the median salary of $50,000.

The 10 markets with the widest gap between home price appreciation and median salaries include San Jose; San Francisco; San Diego; Honolulu; Los Angeles; Boise, Idaho; Seattle; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; and Riverside, California.


In some markets, wages continued to outpace residential real estate appreciation. In the Washington, D.C., area, the median home appreciation was $56,163, while the median wage was $75,000 in 2021, $18,837 higher than the home value growth.

Other markets where the median salary was higher than the median home price appreciation include Chicago; Houston; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Detroit; Minneapolis; St. Louis; Oklahoma City; Birmingham, Alabama; Omaha, Nebraska; New Orleans; and Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas).

The markets with the lowest home price appreciation relative to median salaries in 2021 were Detroit, St. Louis and Baltimore. In St. Louis, which had the smallest home value growth among the 38 markets analyzed, the median home value grew by $27,000.

For renters and homebuyers, rent increases and rapid price appreciation are less-than-rosy news. Nationally, annual rent payments grew by more than $3,000 between December 2020 and December 2021, according to Zillow, and the median down payment increased by more than $10,000.

Rents rose 16% across the United States in 2021, and in some markets, such as Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas, they rose by more than 25% in one year. The median rental rose $7,104 annually in Miami, $4,644 in Phoenix and $4,380 in Las Vegas. Rising rents make it more difficult to save for a down payment.

Since down payments are typically a percentage of the purchase price, the amount needed for a down payment has increased along with home values, putting homeownership further out of reach for some renters.