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There are homes in the U.S. earning owners the income of a six figure salary job.

Homeowners in San Jose, California earn nearly $100 every working hour on their home’s wealth, a recent study says.

However, homes in most states only earn owners minimum wage, according to Zillow. You don’t have to move to earn more on your home, though.

In this roundup, we go over how to keep your home valuable when you’re not selling it. From owners 50 and older not maintaining their homes, to what improvements buyers seek the most.

Investing in a home

The typical homeowner in the U.S. earns $7.09 of equity — part they own — per hour off their home. Which is a little less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 (minimum wage does vary state to state, though). Homeowners in almost half (24) of the 50 states in the U.S. earn more, especially bigger cities.

“But equity ‘earnings’ are a lot different than the salary typically taken home on the first and fifteenth of each month,” says Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. “It is not money that accumulates directly into a checking account or that can be spent on daily needs.”

It is still a measure of Americans’ assets, and gives insight to the differences in wealth spread out across the country. Four out of 5 of the cities with homeowners earning the most on their homes’ equity are located in the state of California.

Here are the top five, aside from San Jose, California…

  • San Francisco, CA: $60.13
  • Seattle, WA: $54.24
  • New York, NY: $42.17
  • Oakland, CA: $38.57
  • San Diego, CA: $30.86

“Equity is only available once a homeowner chooses to sell a home, and even then is often subject to various taxes and other expenses,” Terrazas says. “Still, particularly for homeowners that have already or are very close to paying off a mortgage, this supplemental ‘income’ – especially if allowed to accumulate over several years – can essentially serve as a kind of second job that pays directly to a homeowner’s bottom line, without nearly as much actual work involved in collecting it.”

The age group of homeowners closest to paying off their mortgage are 50 and older. But if they want to make the most return on their home investment, they should focus on fixing up their homes.

Old homeowners can earn more

With age, it gets harder to maintain your home.

Half (49 percent) of homeowners, 50 and older, put off home repairs, says a joint study from insurance company Hartford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s university research program Age Lab.

Sixty percent of homeowners age 50-69 report having work that needs to be finished around the house while only 37 percent of those age 70 and older say the same. Most that age may be retired — giving more time to work on the home — but that doesn’t mean their health is fit to take on their maintenance tasks.

Fifty-two percent of homeowners, 70 and older, say their health makes it hard for them to keep up with home repairs and maintenance.

“Taking care of preventative home maintenance can be challenging at any age,” says Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence. “Especially during mid-life when homeowners may have competing demands for their time and money, and in later life as we may experience physical changes.”

Olshevski feels that planning for home repairs and maintenance will prevent larger problems later. Those problems may be financial, or health related. For the best quality of life, homeowners should plan the same as they do for all other life milestones.

“We know we should plan for college tuition, retirement and healthcare as we move into mid- and later life, but it is equally important to take steps to maintain our homes,” Olshevski says. “A small drip may seem minor but it could ultimately result in bigger water or mold problems.”

When planning home repairs, there are a few upgrades and amenities homeowners can add to increase value to their home.

The right home upgrades

Having heated floors, a steam shower or an outdoor kitchen can help you sell your home for almost a third more than listing price, says a study from Zillow.

The real estate website analyzed almost four million homes’ listing descriptions. Listings with a shower that can be used as a steam room sold for 29 percent more than the seller expected.

The other best upgrades to add to your home to sell for more than you expect are…

  • 29 percent: Professional appliances
  • 26 percent: Pizza oven
  • 25 percent: Pet shower
  • 25 percent: Outdoor kitchen

“While everyone has different style preferences, when it’s time to sell, being specific and strategic with your home’s listing description can have a big financial payoff,” says Zillow’s chief marketing officer Jeremy Wacksman. “If you have these features in your home, try to highlight them in listing photos and descriptions as it may help catch a future buyer’s eye.”

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of


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