Declines in home prices have helped only those who bought since the plunge. Rising rents and falling paychecks have increased the housing burden for many.
With the incredible decline in home prices in some areas, you'd expect that housing would be consuming a smaller chunk of family incomes.
You'd be wrong.
From 2008 to 2009, the number of working families paying more than 50% of their total income for housing grew by more than 600,000, according to a new report by the Center for Housing Policy.
“These findings will be surprising to many who have followed the nationwide decline in home prices,” Jeffrey Lubell, the center's executive director, said in a news release. “Housing costs for existing homeowners have declined only slightly, while housing costs for working renters have actually gone up."
Hard-hit by recession, Nevada no longer is drawing newcomers. Many who would like to leave are trapped by underwater mortgages.
The party's over in Las Vegas, one of the cities where the real-estate bust has hit the hardest.
The decade that came in with a bang went out with a whimper as the once-robust rate of growth slowed to a crawl, according to new U.S. census figures.
The only thing keeping more people from leaving Las Vegas over the recession is -- the recession. Many who would like to leave are stuck, with houses they can't sell and no prospect of a job elsewhere.
"The idea of a mass exodus is not true," Robert Lang, a demographer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told Bloomberg. "People can’t leave because they would have to bring a check to the closing, or declare bankruptcy."
No matter how the federal government redefines its role in the mortgage business, the cost of borrowing will rise.
In seeking changes in the role the U.S. government plays in the mortgage market, the Obama administration is walking a delicate tightrope. Move too quickly, and the already weak housing market takes longer to recover. Move too slowly, and the system that got us into this mess limps on.
It's hard to know what shape the final plan to lessen the U.S. government rule in mortgage financing will take, but one thing looks clear:
"The cost of a mortgage is going to be higher in the future," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Financial Services Committee today.
Mortgage rates have already risen from historic lows last year and are expected to continue to rise, based on economic factors, even if nothing changes. But the proposed financial overhaul is likely to further raise the cost of home loans and could make credit, already tight, even tighter.
Conventional staging wisdom says pets should stay out of sight when your house is on the market. But these Manhattan cats and dogs helped seal the deal.
We've all heard about the basics of staging a home for sale: reduce the clutter, get rid of the wallpaper, showcase a few well-displayed accessories.
Never once has Sabrina Soto, the HGTV staging guru, suggested leaving a friendly dog or cat around to warm up the home. In fact, she advises hiding any evidence that a pet has ever been there.
But according to The New York Times, some Manhattan real-estate agents have found family pets an asset, not a liability, in selling property.
Jon Lightman and Judy Batalion were charmed by the resident cat they met at a Chelsea loft they eventually bought.
"We were so flattered by the cat’s attention," Lightman told The Times. "He was so warm and social. He’d climb on anyone, even our real-estate broker and us. He made the apartment feel lived in, homey."
Rising interest rates could eat up any savings you'd enjoy by waiting for prices to fall.
No one knows when home prices will hit bottom, and the reality is that it won't happen everywhere at the same time.
Even if you have a great crystal ball, the state of the real-estate market should never be the determining factor in deciding when to buy a home. More important are the state of your finances, the state of your job and how long you intend to live in the area.
But if the time is right for you to buy, you may be better off acting now rather than waiting for the bottom of the market. This is why: While home prices may fall, interest rates almost surely will rise, and the two factors together will determine how much you actually pay. With higher interest rates, you could end up paying more for a cheaper house.
Realtors' economist sees signs of hope in a sea of depressing statistics, but others are more pessimistic.
Another week, another set of housing statistics that show trouble continues in the housing market.
Fewer people signed contracts to buy existing homes in January than in December, the National Association of Realtors reported today. That was the second straight month of decline.
The NAR's "index of sales agreements" fell 2.8%, to 88.9. That's higher than the low of 75.9 in June 2010. But it's below 100, which is the rate for 2001 and the number considered healthy. The index measures signed contracts for existing homes, which are usually one to two months ahead of closed sales.
The figures are consistent with other recently released data that indicate the housing market is still struggling. Sales of new homes fell significantly in January. Sales of existing homes rose slightly from December to January, as investors and cash buyers became a bigger part of the market. Home prices hit new lows in December in 11 of 20 markets tracked by Case-Shiller.
The Obama administration is weighing yet another proposal for principal reduction, but banks are already balking.
One of the intractable problems of the housing crisis has been the number of people who owe more than their homes are worth, about 27% nationwide but 50% or more in some hard-hit areas.
The Obama administration, in conjunction with a number of state attorneys general, is pushing for a plan in which servicers would write down principal on home loans, hoping to bring a quicker end to the foreclosure crisis.
If the immediate reaction to the proposal – which hasn't even been finalized yet – is any indication, the prospect of meaningful principal reduction is uncertain at best. Banks have long resisted forgiveness of principal, fearing it would encourage people who can pay their underwater mortgages to stop paying.
My Los Angeles home wasn't too far from Natalie Portman's neighborhood, but it was a little smaller.
Years ago, when I moved to Los Angeles, I headed off to see a house for rent off Los Feliz Boulevard, a rambling road that runs through several miles of L.A. To get there from Burbank, I passed all of these gorgeous mansions, on large, lush lots. "Wow!" I thought. "What kind of a neighborhood is this house in?"
As you might guess, eventually the houses got smaller and smaller until I ended up in a neighborhood of tiny stucco houses on small lots. But the 1925 house was cute, and I lived there happily for 15 months. I just didn't have movie stars for neighbors.
I'm reminded of my time living off Los Feliz Boulevard (pronounced FEE-liz, not feh-LEEZ, the normal pronunciation of the Spanish word for happy) by Zillow's report on the homes of some of the Oscar nominees.
In a much fancier neighborhood off Los Feliz sits Natalie Portman's 1933 estate, which she bought for $3.25 million in 2009. Her lot is bigger than my tiny plot was: 18,000 square feet with a swimming pool and two guest houses. The main house is 4,866 square feet, with four bedrooms and two baths. Even if she wins the Best Actress award for her work in "Black Swan," she won't be walking down the red carpet at home; she has wood floors.