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The fact that U.S. homeowners gained $2.2 trillion in equity during the year ending Sept. 30 as home values rebounded was the “biggest story in American real estate in 2013,” but hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, columnist Ken Harney says.

Harney says the gains are crucial because as more homeowners get out from underwater, they can sell without bringing money to the closing table, borrow against their homes to help pay for home improvements and other expenses, or refinance their mortgages. Source: