Although the housing market is recovering and more properties are being built, potential owners and renters face stiff challenges in finding an affordable place to live, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.
“The national housing market has now regained enough momentum to provide an engine of growth for the US economy, but obstacles continue to hamper the housing recovery,” says “The State of the Nation’s Housing” report issued Wednesday.
Financial advisors say many of their clients are unable to buy homes or are sacrificing retirement and other savings to do so.
Lingering pressures on homeownership, eroding affordability of rental housing, and the growing concentrations of poverty are preventing the housing market from returning to a truly healthy condition, the report says. The national homeownership rate has been on an unprecedented 10-year downward trend, dipping to just 63.7 percent in 2015.
Chris Herbert, managing director of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, notes, “Tight mortgage credit, the decade-long falloff in incomes that is only now ending, and a limited supply of homes for sale are all keeping households — especially first-time buyers — on the sidelines.
“Even though a rebound in home prices has helped to reduce the number of underwater owners, the large backlog of foreclosures is still a serious drag on homeownership,” he adds.
As these lingering effects of the housing crash begin to fade, homeownership may regain some lost ground, but how soon and how much are open to question, the Joint Center for Housing Studies says.
“The question is not so much whether families will want to buy homes in the future, but whether they will be able to do so,” Herbert adds.
The burden of student debt for recent graduates also impacts the housing market, says Dave Geibel, senior vice president and wealth advisor at Girard Partners, a Univest Wealth Management Firm in King of Prussia, Pa.
“For millennials, everything is delayed,” Geibel says. “The reason the housing market has changed is because of demographics. Millennials cannot start saving for a house if they are saddled with student debt. I have four millennials working for me and none of them own homes. However, I do not buy this notion that young people do not want to buy homes.”