Market Lessons on Renter Pain

Solutions for the housing shortage were a focal point at NAR’s homeownership conference at the University of California-Berkeley.

July 12, 2017

The economy is in its seventh year of expansion. Though slower than normal, it’s been robust enough to create 16 million net jobs since the Great Recession and push the unemployment rate down to a very respectable 4.3 percent. Even an alternative measurement of unemployment, which accounts for discouraged and marginally attached workers, is down to 8.4 percent from 17 percent seven years ago.

Home prices have recovered as well. Quickly rising home values have resulted in a doubling of owners’ equity, from $6 trillion since 2010 to a likely $14 trillion by the end of 2017. While this is great news for homeowners, it’s become a source of frustration for nonowners. whose ranks are rising. Renter households have grown by 20 percent, while homeownership has increased by only 0.3 percent during that period.

This renter pain was a focal point at a June conference hosted by the National Association of REALTORS® at the University of California-Berkeley on what’s needed to get the homeownership rate moving back up in a safe, responsible way. A Texas A&M University economist shared a very promising outlook for the state’s housing market based on area job growth. In California, employment has been just as strong, but the picture was dimmer because of the state’s affordability crisis. The median home price in Silicon Valley hit $1.07 million in the first quarter of the year, doubling from five years ago. Trying to save for a down payment in that environment, as rents keep rising, has to be demoralizing.

The crisis in California could well hit other states, too, reflecting insufficient new-home construction. Consider this disparity: Over the past five years, net job gains totaled 517,000 in the Bay Area and 413,000 in Dallas-Ft. Worth, but developers built only 34,600 new homes in the Bay Area while 120,605 new homes were added in Dallas-Ft. Worth to accommodate all the new workers. The severe effects of lagging residential construction cannot be overstated.

Lawrence Yun
Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of REALTORS®

Lawrence Yun is chief economist and senior vice president of Research at the  National Association of REALTORS®. He directs research activity for the association and regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1.1 million REALTOR® members. Dr. Yun creates NAR's forecasts and participates in many economic forecasting panels, including Blue Chip and the Harvard University Industrial Economist Council. He appears regularly on financial news outlets and is a frequent speaker at real estate conferences throughout the United States. USA Today recently listed him among the top 10 economic forecasters in the country.

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