Housing values push Americans’ total wealth to record $88T

The nearly $500B jump in resi real estate values drove the growth in wealth

Rising home values helped push the overall wealth of Americans to a total of $88.1 trillion through the first quarter of this year – an all-time record.

A $498 billion increase in residential real estate values nationwide drove the jump in wealth, offsetting a shaky stock market in the first three months of the year that saw the overall value of equities fall $160 billion, according to a new Federal Reserve report released Thursday.

The news is a testament to the U.S. housing economy’s turnaround since the last recession in 2007 and subsequent global financial crisis the following year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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That downturn, which was precipitated by a housing bubble, saw households lose more than $12 trillion and resulted in Americans’ net worth bottoming out at $55 trillion in 2009.

While the figures are not adjusted for inflation, wealth growth has significantly outpaced inflation, the Journal reported, and the U.S. housing market’s rebound has hugely helped. Homeownership in the U.S. stands at 63.7 percent, and the increase in housing values is benefiting many middle-class households – even those who saw their homes go underwater in recent years as values plummeted.

Americans also aren’t taking on as much debt these days. While total household debt increased $17 billion in the first quarter, it remains lower than levels seen during the financial crisis. [WSJ]Rey Mashayekhi