The State of the Nation's Housing

On June 26th, Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) released the 2014 State of the Nation's Housing report, during a live webcast. The report, released annually by JCHS since 1988, includes a current assessment of the state of the rental and homeownership markets; the economic and demographic trends driving housing demands; the current state of mortgage financing; and issues with ongoing housing affordability. 

According to the report, the housing market is still on track to recover, but faces significant challenges, and millenials will be the key to a stronger recovery. Overall, the housing market's growth and improvement mirrors the broader economy: slow and steady. Among the key points highlighted in the report:

  • Tight credit, higher mortgage interest rates, stagnant incomes and rising student loan debt are tempering the growth of the housing market and keeping many young Americans from purchasing a home.
  • As millenials age, the demand for housing should grow, and the next generation of homebuyers will be the most diverse in the nation's history, as miniorities represent a growing share of the homebuyer market. 
  • Demand for rental housing remains strong, with an increase in the development of rental properties, but the cost burdens of housing are particularly high for renters. More than 35% of Americans are cost burdened when it comes to housing, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Approximately 50% of renters, however, are cost burdened, with nearly a quarter of renters severely burdened (paying more than 50% of income on housing).
  • Supplying housing for low-income and extremely low-income families continues to be a challenge. The primary barrier for these families is availability - there is a significant gap between the number of low-income and extremely low-income families needing a home and the number of affordable homes available to them. 

The full report, with all the data and conclusions, along with an executive summary and interactive maps, are available on JCHS's website. The State of the Nation's Housing report has earned national recognition as an authoritative source of information on the housing market, routinely referenced by researchers, analysts, policy makers, and the larger community.