US housing market squeezing would-be buyers, hiking rents

A diminished supply of available homes is swelling prices in large US metro areas from New York to Miami to Los Angeles, squeezing out would-be buyers and pushing up rents as more people are forced to remain tenants.
 
The trend is pressuring Americans’ budgets, with about one-third of households spending more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing as of 2015, according to a report being released Friday by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
 
Homeownership rates have stagnated in part because high rents have made it difficult for many prospective buyers to amass a down payment for a house.
 
At the same time, the sparse supply of available properties is benefiting existing homeowners, many of whose home values have recovered from the housing bust a decade ago.
 
The tight supply of homes and a shortage of affordable rental housing have improved little in recent years for a variety of reasons. Among the key factors is that construction has yet to regain the pace of homebuilding that predated the bust.
 
“As the economy continues to recover, as income picks up as household formations pick up, it’s not spurring a supply response,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. “It’s a worsening of the situation that was evident last year.”
 
Here are some major findings documented in the report:
 

 
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY
 
The government considers people who spend over 30 percent of their income on housing to be “cost-burdened.” Those who spend more than 50 percent are considered “severely” burdened.
 
About one-third of households – 38.9 million – were considered cost-burdened in 2015, down from 39.8 million a year earlier. This was the fifth straight annual decline.
 
Still, roughly 16 percent of households, or about 18.8 million, paid more than half their income on housing. The share of renters paying more than they can afford varies from city to city. In Miami,…

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