On Jan. 1, 1995, San Mateo’s median home price was $305,083. Suppose you bought and put 20% down plus 1% closing costs. With 1995, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages going for 7.5%, your monthly payments were about $1,700.

Jump to 2005, when you sold for $763,100 (2005’s median price), a perfectly timed deal months before home prices peaked. After amortization payments, your remaining mortgage balance was $211, 837. After paying that off, you had a gain of $551,263. Then, subtracting your down payment, you had a whopping 803% return, or 23.4% annualized. Problem is you forgot a mega boatload of expenses, all of which must be subtracted.

Over those 10 years, you paid more than $32,000 in principal and more than $172,000 in interest. Subtract them, and your return falls to 468%, or 16.7% annualized. San Mateo’s annual home upkeep averaged $1,820 (general maintenance, HOA fees, yard care, etc.). Don’t forget your 1995 closing costs and 2005 real estate agent's commission (about 5%). And property tax! In San Mateo, you paid 1.125% of your purchase price, increasing 2% every year. Over 10 years, that’s more than $37,000. Maybe you remodeled for $40,000 and added a patio for $15,000. Median homes grew 500 square feet between 1995 and 2015. To generate average prices, you must maintain average size.

After all this, your amazingly lucky timing in one of America’s then hottest markets rendered a 177% cumulative return, or 10.8% annualized, pre-tax. That’s comparable to stock or bond returns over the same period in a tax-deferred 401(k). Most American regions did far worse. The one important difference since then? Uncle Sam foots less of your bill since Congress capped property tax and mortgage interest deductibility.

No matter how wonderful your home is, it’s a worse investment than virtually everyone thinks.

Were the "multi" part is coming from? I can see a house in San Mateo costing about $1M more than in '95 (not adjusted for anything, just nominal), but "multi"?