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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

U.S. home price gains lift household wealth to $90.2 trillion

This Dec. 6  photo, shows a house for sale in Coral Gables, Fla. The Federal Reserve says real estate values increased $554 billion in the third quarter, while Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios rose $494 billion. (Alan Diaz / Associated Press)
By Christopher S. Rugaber Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A healthy increase in home values and higher stock prices drove up U.S. household wealth in the July-September quarter, though the gains are largely concentrated among wealthier Americans.

The Federal Reserve says real estate values increased $554 billion in the third quarter, while Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios rose $494 billion. Total household wealth, which includes checking and savings accounts and subtracts mortgages and other debt, increased 1.8 percent to $90.2 trillion.

The rise suggests that Americans’ finances are improving, with more families building equity in their homes. Greater wealth can encourage more spending and boost economic growth.

Still, national wealth isn’t widely shared, which limits the benefits of any increase. The wealthiest 1 percent held 42 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2012, the latest data available.