The average new U.S. home price in 2015 was $351,000. Graphic: The Wall Street Journal

By Laura Kusisto
10 August 2016

(The Wall Street Journal) – The housing recovery that began in 2012 has lifted the overall market but left behind a broad swath of the middle class, threatening to create a generation of permanent renters, and sowing economic anxiety and frustration for millions of Americans.

Home prices rose in 83% of the nation’s 178 major real-estate markets in the second quarter, according to figures released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors. Overall prices are now just 2% below the peak reached in July 2006, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

But most of the price gains, economists said, stem from a lack of fresh supply rather than a surge of buyers. The pace of new home construction remains at levels typically associated with recessions, while the homeownership rate in the second quarter was at its lowest point since the Census Bureau began tracking quarterly data in 1965 and the share of first-time home purchases remains mired near three-decade lows.

The lopsided recovery has shut out millions of aspiring homeowners who have been forced to rent because of damaged credit, swelling student loans, tough credit standards and a dearth of affordable homes, economists said.

In all, some 200,000 to 300,000 fewer U.S. households are purchasing a new home each year than would during normal market conditions, estimates Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center of Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California at Berkeley.

“I don’t think we are in a normal housing market,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. “The losers are clearly the rising rental population that isn’t able to participate in this housing equity appreciation. They are missing out on [a big] source of middle-class wealth.”

Anxiety about missed economic opportunities is a key driver of the anti-incumbent anger on both sides of the political spectrum that has shaken up the 2016 election season, helping fuel the insurgent presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

“You have these people who can’t get housing, and it’s turning into this rage,” said Kevin Finkel, executive vice president at Philadelphia-based Resource Real Estate, which owns or manages 25,550 apartments around the U.S.

After peaking in July 2006, the Case-Shiller index plunged 27% over the next six years. Since then the recovery has been swift, particularly in markets with strong job growth and limited supply, creating problems for entry-level buyers in particular.

In Sacramento, prices have jumped 64% since the beginning of 2012, according to data provider CoreLogic. [more]

Lopsided Housing Rebound Leaves Millions of People Out in the Cold


  1. Anonymous said...

    There are affordable houses/housing all over the country. It may not be in the area one currently lives, but we can't always stay in the same area for life.  

  2. Dennis Mitchell said...

    People should have a right to build affordable structures. Tents if need be. Very small houses not on foundations. Building codes should be abolished.  

  3. Anonymous said...

    "Building codes should be abolished." That will go over great in earthquake prone areas.  


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