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Homeowners and renters across the U.S. are struggling with housing costs, with millions of potential home buyers priced out of the market by high prices and interest rates, existing homes for sale in short supply, and the number of renters experiencing cost burdens at an all-time high.

That’s the key finding of the State of the Nation’s Housing 2024, an annual report that also called on government policymakers and the private sector to address housing challenges “that are likely to become more urgent in the years ahead.”

The report, released June 20 by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, cited home prices that reached a new all-time high early this year, as well as interest rates on a 30-year mortgage that have pushed mortgage costs to three-decade highs for a median-priced home. Meanwhile, in the rental market, rents remain up 26 percent nationwide since early 2020, and are rising in three out of every five markets, the report stated, noting that the U.S. home price index is now a whopping 47 percent higher than since early 2020.

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • First-time home buying dropped and the U.S. homeownership rate inched up just 0.1 percent in 2023, to 65.9 percent, the smallest increase since 2016.
  • Just 1.1 million homes were available for purchase in March 2024, down 34 percent from March 2019. This is just 3.2 months of supply, even with the current reduced sales rate.
  • In the face of rising housing costs, “burden rates” are also increasing. Half of all renter households, 22.4 million in total, spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities at last measure in 2022, up 2 million since 2019 and the highest number on record. 
  • Low for-sale inventories are leading homebuyers toward new, rather than existing, homes. However, construction of smaller, lower-cost, entry-level housing is still hampered. Restrictive zoning and regulatory policies, skilled labor shortages, financing limitations, and other challenges increase the costs and reduce the amount of affordable development.
  • Another significant challenge is to the housing stock itself, which is increasingly at risk of damage from severe hazards. An estimated 60.5 million housing units are currently located in areas with at least moderate risk from natural disasters.

“Addressing these challenges will not be easy,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center. “But with concerted efforts by policymakers at all levels of government, together with the private and nonprofit sectors, we have the ability to increase the supply of quality, affordable homes in thriving communities across the U.S.” QR

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