U.S. home sellers in 2018 had the biggest gains in 12 years as they benefited from longer tenure in their properties.
Home sellers in 2018 had an average realized gain of $61,000, up from $50,000 in 2017 and $39,500 in 2016. Homeowners who sold in the last quarter had stayed in their properties an average of 8.3 years, longer than they have in at least 19 years and the longest since ATTOM Data Solutions started tracking the statistic in 2000.
While the $61,000 gain is a nationwide average, "those along the coasts reaped the most gains," said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM.
Now that trend might be changing as growth rates slow in some of those cities. Seattle home prices have declined for five consecutive months, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index. On a year-over-year basis, prices in Seattle grew 6.3 percent, less than half the pace of a year ago. The rate of price growth in San Diego has also been cut in half and prices have fallen in four out of the past five months.
Still, gains in California outpace other areas by a wide margin. Nine of the 10 metro areas with the largest gains are located in California, with the average increase in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area at close to $600,000 or about 10 times the median household income in the U.S.
Home sellers lost money in a dozen metro areas last year. The biggest average loss, of $26,000, was in Montgomery, Alabama. The last year Montgomery sellers sold for an average gain was in 2009.