America may be a microcosm of the nation itself: a bit less dynamic, far more
costly and uncomfortably more unequal than we’d like.
That’s according to one of the most comprehensive annual
reports on the topic, the State
of the Nation’s Housing, released Tuesday.
The report, which marks its 30th anniversary this year, is
produced annually by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard
University. This year’s edition describes an America in which fewer people are
homeowners now than when it was first published, in 1988.
And the situation for a growing group of renters? It’s only
a bit less grim than a few years ago. Renters are bearing the brunt of the
affordability crisis — but that’s burdening owners too. Ten years on from the
housing crisis, there are still a lot of people who can’t afford to sell, there
are even more who can’t afford to buy, and despite low unemployment, an awful
lot of Americans are tied to jobs or family situations that don’t permit
That may all sound academic, but these trends have
real-world consequences for millions of individuals and for the nation as a
whole. The charts that follow illustrate some of the report’s most powerful
Nearly one-third of American households, or 38.1 million,
paid more than 30% of their incomes for housing in 2016, making them
“cost-burdened” by the center’s standards. The share of renters
who are cost-burdened has made a little progress since the end of
the housing crash and recession, falling to 47.5% in 2016 from 50.2% in 2010.
The share of burdened homeowners, meanwhile, fell during that time — to 23.0%
The study also finds that Americans are staying
in one place longer, losing much of the dynamism that once
characterized the populace’s impulse to chase opportunity. That’s in part the
legacy of the housing crisis, which left lots of people with homes they
couldn’t sell — or jobless. And now, the hyper-competitive real estate market
makes a lot of people think
twice about looking for an upgrade.
Inequality is widening not just between owners and renters,
but also between whites and people of color. The homeownership rate among
African-Americans has ticked up, a bit, in the years since the crisis, but
still sits near long-time lows. The gap between the homeownership rate for
whites and blacks was 29.2 percentage points in 2017, the
widest in decades. That’s particularly poignant given that
African-Americans had far
more of their household wealth wiped out by the crisis compared to
costs chew up personal budgets, Americans are increasingly unable
to spend money on the basics — food, transportation and health care — let alone
What does this all mean for the future of home ownership?
It’s nearly impossible to say, as this animated map
intimates. Watch as home prices jump further and further out of reach as the
housing bubble inflated. And once that bubble popped, it was hard to imagine
crawling out of that hole. Yet here we are. Stay tuned for next year.
here for the original article from Market Watch.