Eight years after the worst housing crash in modern history, there’s plenty of evidence the U.S. housing market is picking up steam. Median existing-home prices rose to $221,900 in September, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), while existing home sales were up 8.8 percent from a year ago.
But while the housing market might be recovering, homeownership has not. The benefits of the recent uptick are flowing largely to an older, wealthier group of homeowner “haves,” while a growing number of people – many of them young and non-white – are stuck on the sidelines and likely to stay there. According to the NAR, 67 percent of today’s homebuyers are married couples, many with incomes approaching six figures.
The prospects for homeownership as a gateway to the American Dream have, in fact, never been bleaker. The share of first-time homebuyers is at its second-lowest level ever, according to the NAR – down to 32 percent from an historic average of closer to 40 percent. Meanwhile, the overall homeownership rate was down to 63.7 percent in the third quarter of 2015 – the lowest it’s been since 1990, according to Census data.