Remember the housing crisis? Well, for many American homeowners, it’s now squarely in the rear-view mirror. A report from RealtyTrac finds that the percentage of homeowners who are underwater — meaning they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth — has fallen to about 10 percent. It was 28 percent at its peak in 2012. The main reason: home prices have been rising, for years, helped by low mortgage rates. So homeowners have been able to build wealth through the equity they have in their homes. That ability to accumulate wealth is something that just going to work and earning a paycheck hasn’t really delivered, because wages have been flat. And savings deliver lousy returns. But while coastal cities have surged, struggling Midwestern cities — like Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee — have missed out. There are still 6 million households under water. And, if mortgage rates rise in the coming year, the home-price-and-equity boom could moderate nationwide if home prices stop rising as a result.
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