Are Things Really Looking Up in the Housing Market?

Where are those “green shoots” in the housing market? With unemployement numbers slowly coming down, and with the economy making small, but sustained advances, we've also heard some good news related to the housing market. So, the market is improving, but how do communities fare?

Recent data released by the Urban Land Institute, who surveyed 38 real-estate economists and analysts, shows some positive signs, but does show some alarm data related to the cost of rentals as vacancies diminish and the demand for affordable rentals increases. This concern is the centerpiece of the National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual report, Out of Reach 2012, that drives home the point that there are severe implications for extremely low income households earning at or below 30 percent of area median income. 

We asked our readers last week to weigh in on this seemingly conflicting data in order to find out if these bright spots in the housing market were shining through in our communities. Roughly half said that there were encouraging signs in their communities, while other respondents said the national narrative does not reflect what's happening on the ground in their community. Here's a selection of responses:

“Yes, we're seeing signs of recovery with home prices stabilizing, but rents going WAY up due to dearth of housing.” — San Mateo County, Calif.

“We've seen an alarming number of “empty but not abandoned” homes, due to foreclosures and/or investors over-improving properties they can't sell and won't rent at rates that match the neighborhood. My guess is these properties will be abandoned by their owners, probably within the next five years.” — Baltimore, Md. 

“No, the national reports do not reflect what's happening on the ground.

Foreclosures have subsided but there continues to be extremely limited interest in home purchase.”

We'd like to hear from you. Tell us in the comment section below about the trends you're seeing in your community.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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