The Extreme Measures of the Pandemic 'Housing Boom'

It's hard to describe the current trends in the housing market as a "boom," though homebuying costs are surely rising.

April 15, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Suburban Neighborhood

Alan Sheldon / Shutterstock

"America has a record-low number of homes available for sale — just 1.03 million," writes Felix Salmon, citing data from the National Association of Realtors, to explain the roots of the current "housing boom."

Salmon's point throughout this article is that this housing boom isn't like previous booms: "It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it."

The numbers also agree: the 1.03 million homes available amount to only a fraction of the homes available for sale during the last housing boom in July 2007, when 4 million homes were for sale.

National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun is quoted in the article saying this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."

There are other forces at work, however, Salmon lists "continued low mortgage rates, a pandemic-era construction slowdown, a desire for more space as people work increasingly from home, and a stock market driven increase in money available for downpayment" as causes of the rising cost of housing in the United States. There's also a rise of large corporate buyers in the market.

Salmon also offers a list of good news, losers, and a few potential outcomes for the "housing boom" of the pandemic.

Sunday, April 11, 2021 in Axios

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