How Rising Home Prices Hurt Us All

Decreases in homeownership rates are driving increases in income inequality, according to a recent study.

How Rising Home Prices Hurt Us All Photo (cc) by Mark Turnauckas

Home prices are rising, but fewer homeowners are benefiting, according to one trade association.

The National Association of Realtors’ analysis of 100 of the largest U.S. metropolitan regions shows that homeownership rates decreased in 93 percent of those areas between 2010 and 2013.

That means fewer people are benefiting from the $5 trillion increase in housing wealth since the downturn, according to NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun.

That also means income inequality is worsening, as homeownership has historically been a primary source of wealth accumulation for middle-class families. The NAR study found that wealth distribution is most unequal in regions with the lowest homeownership rates.

Yun explains in a press release:

Due to an underperforming labor market, insufficient housing supply and overly stringent underwriting standards since the recession, homeownership has plunged to a rate not seen in over two decades.

As a result, the country has become more unequal as the number of homeowners has fallen while the number of renters has significantly risen.

Income inequality is worst in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and Fresno, California, according to NAR.

According to NAR’s analysis, homeownership rates decreased the most from 2010 to 2013 in:

  1. Bakersfield-Delano, California: 5.57 percent decrease
  2. Richmond, Virginia: 4.75 percent
  3. Toledo, Ohio: 4.44 percent
  4. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida: 4.27 percent
  5. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida: 4.17 percent
  6. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida: 3.9 percent
  7. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California: 3.73 percent
  8. Greensboro-High Point, North Carolina: 3.48 percent
  9. Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana: 3.39 percent
  10. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida: 3.38 percent

The average homeownership rate decreased by 1.8 percent across all 100 regions that NAR analyzed.

Homeownership rates increased from 2010 to 2013 in only seven of the regions the NAR analyzed:

  1. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas: 0.75 percent
  2. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Arkansas: 0.51 percent
  3. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah: 0.5 percent
  4. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York: 0.44 percent
  5. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, Pennsylvania: 0.16 percent
  6. Columbia, South Carolina: 0.13 percent
  7. Spokane, Washington: 0.02 percent increase

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Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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