Home Sales Should Be Higher—But They’re Not

Following population trends, the U.S. should be adding more than a million households each year for the next few years, economists note in Freddie Mac’s April Outlook report. But higher housing costs and a delay in younger adults’ buying are prompting an uptick in shared living arrangements, multigenerational households, and delayed household formation.

A shortage of homes for sale continues to press on many markets across the country. The number of single-family homes available for sale in the U.S. in February was 1.41 million units, less than half of the inventory peak in 2007, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Researchers predict that home sales will rise from 6.12 million in 2017 to 6.3 million in 2018, and to 6.44 million in 2019. They are forecasting that new home sales will be a significant driver in home sales over the next few months.

Source: “Nothing Draws a Crowd Like a Crowd: The Outlook for Home Sales,” Freddie Mac Outlook (April 2018)

Is Calif.’s Housing Crisis Spinning Out of Control?

California has a severe lack of affordable homes and apartments for middle-class families, The New York Times reports. Their median cost of a home has surged to $500,000—double the national cost.

“The extreme rise in housing costs has emerged as a threat to the state’s future economy and its quality of life,” The New York Times reports. “It has pushed the debate over housing to the center of state and local politics, fueling a resurgent rent control movement and the growth of neighborhood ‘Yes in My Back Yard’ organizations, battling long-established neighborhood groups and local elected officials as they demand an end to strict zoning and planning regulations.”

The state has introduced 130 housing measures this year. Among one of the most recent actions, the Senate approved a bill to crack down on communities that have delayed or derailed housing construction proposals. The bill would restrict the ability to use zoning, environmental, and procedural laws to kill projects that may be considered “out of character” with the neighborhood. The bill is expected to be voted on again later this summer.

Source: “The Cost of a Hot Economy: A Severe Housing Crisis,” The New York Times (July 17, 2017)

Report: Housing Costs Pinch 21.3M Renters

A record high number of American renters — about 21.3 million — are devoting 30 percent or more of their income to paying rent, according to the annual State of the Nation’s Housing report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Most financial experts say consumers shouldn’t pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income for housing costs.

Rents, however, have been rising faster than wages for years now. “When you have to dedicate such a high proportion of your income to rent every month, it forces you to make difficult decisions,” says Dan McCue, a senior research associate at Harvard’s Joint Center. “It means spending less on essentials like food, clothing, and health care, as well as less opportunity to save for a down payment on a home or plan for retirement.”

Source: Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and “11 Million Americans Spend Half Their Income on Rent,” CNNMoney (June 22, 2016)