Housing is harder to find for those of lesser means and people of color – but those who can achieve homeownership will have an economic edge, according to the annual State of the Nation’s Housing report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

The report stresses that inventory is tight, with the vacancy rate for owner-occupied homes last year at its lowest level since 1995.

More higher-income people are renting, with researchers citing 311,000 more tenant households earning more than $75,000 last year than in 2017, which poses a challenge for households in need of lower rents. “The focus of new construction on higher-cost units has thus shifted the overall distribution of rents upward,” according to researchers.

It is not surprising, then, that more renters are cost-burdened, with one-fifth of renter households devoting 30% to 50% of their income on housing costs, and one-quarter paying more than 50%.

Moreover, close to three-quarters of renters with incomes of $15,000 or less are spending more than half their income on housing.

Meanwhile, the share of cost-burdened homeowners continued to decline, hitting the lowest level of the century in 2018; and the amount of equity Americans hold in their homes rose along with home prices.

Among other things, the report shows that the black homeownership rate fell to its lowest level since 1995, but every other ethnic group gained ground in the past year.

Source: MarketWatch (06/26/19) Riquier, Andrea

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