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Housing Crisis Worsens as Costs Surge for Homeowners and Renters – Norada Real Estate Investments

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In a time when housing affordability is already a pressing issue, both homeowners and renters are feeling the financial strain as housing costs continue to rise. Elevated home prices, climbing interest rates, and increasing insurance and tax costs are putting potential homebuyers at a disadvantage. Simultaneously, renters are grappling with soaring rents, resulting in record levels of cost burdens. Let’s break down the recent report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Housing Crisis Worsens in the US

Homeowners Face Rising Costs

According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index, home prices reached a new high in early 2024, continuing an upward trend that saw a 6.4 percent annual increase in February. This spike follows a 5.6 percent rise in 2023, bringing the index up 47 percent since early 2020. The increase in home prices has been particularly pronounced in the Northeast and Midwest, with more subdued growth in the South and West.


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The implications of these price increases are significant. Many potential homebuyers have been priced out of the market, with higher interest rates compounding the challenge. The average 30-year mortgage rate is hovering around 7 percent, substantially higher than the rates many current homeowners enjoy.

This rate disparity creates a “lock-in” effect, discouraging existing homeowners from selling and further limiting the supply of homes on the market. As a result, the inventory of homes for sale remains critically low, with just 1.1 million homes available in March 2024, down from 1.7 million in March 2019. This represents only 3.2 months of supply, even with a reduced sales rate.

In addition to rising home prices, homeowners are also facing higher insurance premiums and property taxes. Between May 2022 and May 2023, home insurance premiums increased by an average of 21 percent, according to Policygenius. Property taxes have also been on the rise, further adding to the financial burden for homeowners. These increased costs are pushing more homeowners into cost-burdened status, where they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities.

Renters Struggle with Escalating Rents

While rent growth has slowed to just 0.2 percent year-over-year in early 2024, rents have surged by 26 percent nationwide since early 2020. This has led to a significant increase in the number of cost-burdened renters, with 22.4 million households spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities in 2022. Of these, 12.1 million are severely cost-burdened, spending over half their income on housing.

The rental market has seen some cooling due to an influx of new multifamily rental units. Multifamily completions rose by 22 percent to 449,900 units in 2023, the highest annual level in over three decades.

This increase in supply has led to a slight rise in vacancy rates, which reached 5.9 percent in early 2024, more than double the record low of 2.5 percent in early 2022. However, the cooling effect on rents has been modest, and the overall affordability crisis remains severe.

Cost burdens are particularly severe for low-income renters, with 83 percent of those earning less than $30,000 annually facing significant financial strain. Racial disparities also persist, with higher cost-burden rates among Black, Hispanic, and multiracial renter households compared to their white and Asian counterparts.

More than half of Black (57 percent), Hispanic (54 percent), and multiracial (50 percent) renter households were cost-burdened in 2022. For the lowest-income renters, the median residual income—the amount left after paying for housing and utilities—is just $310 per month, barely enough to cover other basic needs.

New Construction and Market Dynamics

Despite the rising costs, single-family home construction is accelerating, and a surge of new multifamily rental units is helping to slightly cool the rental market. In 2023, multifamily completions rose by 22 percent, reaching the highest annual level in over three decades. However, the high cost of construction and financing challenges are expected to slow the pace of new unit additions.

Multifamily construction starts have plummeted from an annualized rate of 531,000 units in the first half of 2023 to just 343,000 units in the first quarter of 2024.

This decline is due to a combination of rising construction costs, higher financing costs, and tighter credit conditions. As a result, while the number of units under construction remains near record highs, the pace of new additions to the rental market is expected to slow in the coming years.

The rental market has seen some cooling due to an influx of new multifamily rental units. Multifamily completions rose by 22 percent to 449,900 units in 2023, the highest annual level in over three decades.

This increase in supply has led to a slight rise in vacancy rates, which reached 5.9 percent in early 2024, more than double the record low of 2.5 percent in early 2022. However, the cooling effect on rents has been modest, and the overall affordability crisis remains severe.

Demographic Trends and Household Growth

Despite high housing costs, household growth remained robust through last year. The nation gained 1.7 million households between 2022 and 2023, according to the Housing Vacancy Survey. Though lower than the previous year’s 1.9 million new households, this is still a significant uptick from the 1.1 million annual pace averaged in the 2010s.

This growth is driven largely by Gen Zers (born 1995—2009) benefiting from the healthy labor market and millennials (born 1980—1994) who got a late start on forming their own households because of the Great Recession. Additionally, the large population of baby boomers is increasing the number of older households.

Another major contributor to robust household growth is ballooning immigration, which peaked at 3.3 million in 2023 according to the Congressional Budget Office, after averaging 919,000 annually in the 2010s. The majority of this increase is asylum seekers facing challenges that will slow their housing trajectories. But household growth may remain strong for some time, as this population will eventually form households.

Challenges Ahead and Call to Action

As household growth continues and the housing market struggles to keep up, the urgency to address the affordability crisis becomes ever more pressing. The inadequate housing safety net, the record number of people experiencing homelessness, and the growing threat of climate change are challenges that require immediate and coordinated action.

Policymakers, developers, and community organizations must collaborate to create sustainable solutions. Expanding affordable housing options, providing support for cost-burdened households, and investing in resilient infrastructure are critical steps toward mitigating the housing crisis. Additionally, addressing racial disparities in housing and ensuring equitable access to safe and affordable homes must be prioritized.

The housing affordability crisis is a complex issue that demands a multifaceted approach. With concerted efforts from all stakeholders, it is possible to create a housing market that is fair, inclusive, and sustainable for all.


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