But housing wealth is significantly up since the beginning of COVID-19:
“The housing market has shed some of its value, but most homeowners will still reap big rewards from the pandemic housing boom. The total value of U.S. homes remains roughly $13 trillion higher than it was in February 2020, the month before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic,” said Redfin Economics Research Lead Chen Zhao in the report.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people were left behind. Many Americans couldn’t afford to buy homes even when mortgage rates hit rock bottom in 2021, which means they missed out on a significant wealth building opportunity,” Zhao added.
Hence, I am a little confused by the story that leads with the recent data. The recent drop is just a portion of the big gain from February 2020 on. People do feel losses strongly but the bigger picture is that homeowners have gained much in recent years.
Herbert says there are ways for renters to build wealth outside of home ownership, and he points to stocks and bonds as one example. In some cases, this may be a better investment than housing, he says.
“Renters can do well if they are able to put money into those financial instruments. The rate of return on stocks and bonds over the long term has certainly been higher than the rate of return on homeownership,” he says.
Still, Herbert is optimistic the housing market will improve in 2023 for those who want to go that route.
There are other investment options but this article does not expand much on them. The focus instead is on homeownership and the lengths people might go to achieve it or the ways opportunities might be expanded to more people.
One aspect of the article that struck me was the emotional component of status and success regarding homeownership. Owning a home and/or having a mortgage is not just a financial transaction that will likely pay off one day. It also involves providing for household members, signaling success, and joining a particular social class. It is hard to separate the financial investment and the emotional investment in American society.
Is the key then to promoting other investments or celebrating renting to successfully develop positive connotations and feelings? What if renting was viewed as a flexible form of provision that allowed households the nimbleness needed in today’s uncertain world? or, is investing in stocks and bonds an honorable investment in the future?
Finally, wealth and homeownership do not necessarily have to go together. New structures or systems might decouple this connection or provide multiple pathways to economic success.
The researchers identified 10,800 representatives across city halls, state houses, and federal offices in 2019 and cross-referenced their home addresses with tax records. They found that about 93% of US senators, congressional representatives, federal judges, city council members, state senators, state representatives and governors definitely or likely owned a home.
In another sample of 1,800 city-level officeholders, the discrepancy between voters and their electeds was stark: For the 190 municipalities researchers examined, citywide homeownership rates were around 50%, while 83% of mayors owned their residences…
Despite these high-profile exceptions — both young people of color, like Azeem — researchers found that in city after city, the broader homeownership trend held, even in costly cities like Miami and Boston, where renters dominate. “There aren’t really any cities where large numbers of renters have been elected to local, state or federal office,” Einstein said.
The paper describes two “bottlenecks” that could prevent renter representation: Either fewer renters run, or fewer voters are willing to elect them. By analyzing the housing status of city council candidates in California between 2017 and 2018, they found that the former is more likely…
Elected officials are even more out of step with their communities when it comes to where and how they live. Researchers found that the homes occupied by local, state and federal officials were worth an average of 50% more than their zip code’s median value. The higher the level of public office, the greater the ratio. Nearly 80% of officeholders who owned their houses lived in single-family homes, while only 67% of houses across the country are considered single family.
At the core of American housing policy is a secret hiding in plain sight: Homeownership works for some because it cannot work for all. If we want to make housing affordable for everyone, then it needs to be cheap and widely available. And if we want that housing to act as a wealth-building vehicle, home values have to increase significantly over time. How do we ensure that housing is both appreciating in value for homeowners but cheap enough for all would-be homeowners to buy in? We can’t…
Fundamentally, the U.S. needs to shift away from understanding housing as an investment and toward treating it as consumption. No one expects their TV or their car to be a store of value, let alone to appreciate. Instead, Americans recognize that expensive purchases should reflect their particular desires and that the cost should be worth the use they get out of them…
If we are interested in helping low- and middle-income people live well, we need to fix renting. Some potential policies include increasing oversight of the rental market, providing tenants with a right to counsel in eviction court to reduce predatory filings, advancing rent-stabilization policies, public investment in rental-housing quality, and, most important, building tons of new housing so that power shifts in the rental market from landlords to tenants. Even if nothing changes and America’s love affair with homeownership continues, tens of millions of people will continue renting for the duration of their lives, and almost everyone will rent for at least part of their life. Financial security, reliable and reasonable housing payments, and freedom from exploitation should not be the domain of homeowners.
There is a lot to think about here. A few thoughts:
Is the entire goal of the American system to generate money through property and ownership? Owning land and property has been very important from the beginning not only for what land could be used for and the money that could be generated but also because of status and rights attached to owning land and homes.
Who is homeownership for? Consistently in American life, it is more available and profitable for wealthier white residents. Policies and ideals have promoted and perpetuated this.
Given #1 and #2, renting is not just a difference in how one pays for their dwelling. It is a difference in how a person is regarded and what is viewed as ideal. The current system may have vast disparities in homeownership and the wealth generated by it but renting or renters is disagreeable to a good portion of Americans.
Even if the goal remains to help adults in the United States attain homeownership, more could be done to address renting or obtaining a first property or addressing racial disparities in housing values. Ignoring renting means that it could limit people in the future from owning a home. Or, not having entry-level housing means people cannot easily move up. Or, help limit the disparities in housing values based on existing patterns. Promoting only homeownership is short-sighted.
American households lost about $6.8 trillion in wealth over the first three quarters of 2022 as the stock market shed more than 25% of its value, the Federal Reserve reported Friday in the government’s quarterly financial accounts.
Nominal net worth fell 4.6% to $143.3 trillion, as the market value of assets fell by $6 trillion and liabilities rose by about $900 billion. Households’ balance sheets were propped up by a 10% increase in home equity, which is the greatest source of wealth for most American families…
Homeowners, in particular, were in good shape financially as September ended, with the equity in their houses rising to a near-record 70.5% of market value from a record low of 46% in 2012. But if home prices continue to fall as they have done in the past several months, homeowners without much exposure to the stock market will begin to feel poorer. What will happen to home prices as mortgage rates rise is a major unknown facing policy makers and homeowners alike.
Thinking out loud: after what happened in the late 2000s with housing prices, how would people respond to a significant reduction in housing values? Or, how would this be received if inflation is ongoing and the stock market struggles? For now, some can rest assured that their homes will retain value. But, this is not guaranteed.
Interra Realty, a Chicago-based commercial real estate investment services firm, announced this week it brokered the transaction — equating to $242,500 per unit — for the property at 1 N. Chestnut Ave. The firm represented both the seller, the Chestnut Street Condominium Association, and the confidential buyer, according to the announcement…
“As long as there remains potent rental demand in desirable communities like Arlington Heights, I expect to see continued deconversion opportunities in select Chicago suburbs,” Interra Managing Partner Patrick Kennelly said in the company announcement. “This submarket, in particular, has become more of an investment target following headlines related to Arlington Park.”
If this continues to spread – and I saw numerous stories in the last few years about single-family homes turned into rentals as well – I would imagine there will be some concern and attempted regulations.
Differences in homeownership now contribute to differences later. Article one:
American home buyers are older, whiter and wealthier than at any time in recent memory, with first-time buyers accounting for the smallest share of the market in 41 years, the National Association of Realtors found in its annual profile of home buyers and sellers.
White buyers accounted for 88 percent of home sales during the survey period, up from 82 percent during the same period a year earlier, reaching the highest level in 25 years, according to the association’s findings.
The new findings add weight to a hard truth that many young families have experienced as they struggle to save money to buy a home, competing in the most brutally competitive housing market in modern history: They have been elbowed out by buyers who have something they might never have — all cash…
“This is a feedback mechanism that can potentially supercharge wealth inequality in our economy,” said Austin Clemens, the director of economic measurement policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, who studies housing inequities. “It’s hitting younger people, it’s hitting lower income people. And we also find that this is hitting Hispanic and Black households especially hard.”
Though loan denials for both Black and white applicants have slowed since the 2008 financial crisis, the gap in denial rates for Black and white people applying for home loans has widened significantly. Today, 15 percent of Black applicants are denied mortgages while 6 percent of white applicants are denied the home loans, according to a report by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, an advocacy organization for Black real estate professionals.
The housing market remains persistently and disproportionately challenging for Black prospective home buyers, the report’s writers say, although Black homeownership has been inching forward since the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which made it illegal to discriminate based on race or religion in all aspects of home sales and rentals. The full report will be released on Wednesday.
Nearly 45 percent of Black households own their homes, compared with more than 74 percent of white households. But in 1970, the gap in homeownership between Black and white households was about 24 percent. Today, it is 30 percent.
The disparity in homeownership rates, as well as widespread appraisal discrimination, are compounding the massive income gap between Black and white households and thwarting Black Americans’ efforts to create generational wealth, the report notes. In 2020, the average white family held 12 times the wealth of the average Black family, and home equity is the largest source of wealth for both Black and white households, the report says.
If a potential buyer cannot purchase now, this has ramifications for years. And if someone could not purchase decades ago, this has implications right now.
Given the American emphasis on homeownership, even by presidents, I am a little surprised there has been limited public conversation about more assistance for first-time buyers. Are there ways on a broader scale to help people purchase a first home that helps increase equity later? With starter homes in low supply, help is needed. And addressing disparities now could help close gaps later.
But, lower prices means some might be able to buy when they could not otherwise. The hottest markets in good economic times have high prices and lots of competition. Even as borrowing money is harder in a recession, prices can be lower and the competition might not be as stiff.
Some people are still buying and selling homes during economic downturns. This leads to a long-term question: are those who buy during a recession more or less likely to hold tightly to the idea of a home as an investment? Is buying at the height of the market – famously, such as right before the housing bubble burst in the late 2000s – tied to a deeper focus on property values and a strong return on investment? Or, because a home purchased during a recession might emphasize scarcity and economic uncertainty, might this lead to more concerns about property values?
Top 10 cities where housing markets are cooling the fastest in 2022
Las Vegas, NV
San Jose, CA
San Diego, CA
Sacramento, CA and Denver, CO (tie)
North Port, FL
This raises multiple questions:
While housing values are going down, how long before they stabilize and head back up? After all, these are places with higher demand and rising prices over time. At least, that is what a lot of homeowners are planning on.
How are residents of these places feeling? American property owners like it when property values are going up, even if they are not ready to sell. When prices go down, I assume they are not feeling as good. (This could be true even if housing values today are higher than they were not long ago; the immediate feeling of loss is strong.)
Is a local market with higher highs and lower lows in housing prices one where more growth is happening? Looking at the list above, it would appear these are fairly popular places with a steady demand for housing. The alternative to the yo-yoing in the housing market is a market where prices do not rise much or lose much. Such markets also exist in the United States, but they are less desirable.
How might this be interpreted? Here is what came right before the data:
Although the rules have been relaxed and tightened over the years, the secondary mortgage market in the U.S. requires condo buildings to maintain a certain level of owner-occupied units in order to fund mortgages for buyers purchasing in those properties. If buyers can’t get mortgages easily for a condo unit, they will look elsewhere. That can depress prices for the entire property. (Over the years, the percentage of allowable units that may be rented has fluctuated from 50 to 80%. Fannie Mae’s current rate of allowed rentals in a condo building is 50%. )
Also, renters may be wonderful people but they don’t always make great neighbors. They may not take care of the overall property as carefully as a unit owner would, and the length of their tenancy tends to be shorter than the amount of time a unit owner lives in a home they own.
Are renters less desirable because too many rental units can affect property values and renters may not care for the residence and they do not stay as long? Having seen such arguments in my research on suburban settings, there are both perceptions about renters and systems regarding properties that contribute to the overall preference for homeownership. Renting may be necessary for some and/or for a time and/or in particular markets, but Americans overall privilege owners who in contrast to the sentiments above presumably stay longer, care more for their properties, and promote higher property values.