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Housing Perspectives

Research, trends, and perspective from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

End of the Year Roundup: Our Most Popular Blogs of 2019

Rental supply challenges, cost burdens, and price-to-income ratios: our most popular blogs of 2019 hit upon some of the biggest housing concerns facing the US.

In case you missed any of them, the top five posts on our blog this year were:

1. Price-to-Income Ratios Are Nearing Historic Highs
The typical sale price of an existing single-family home in 2017 was 4.2 times greater than the median household income. That’s a significant increase from 2011, when the price-to-income ratio was 3.3, and 1988, when it was 3.2.

2. The Most Popular Remodeling Projects: Rich Data Tables Provide Insights and Answer Key Questions
What are the most common types of home improvement projects? How much do homeowners spend on a typical bathroom remodel if installed by professional contractors versus as a do-it-yourself project? Answers to these questions and others can be found in the extensive data tables released with the latest remodeling report.

3. Nearly a Third of American Households Were Cost-Burdened Last Year
The share of US households facing housing cost burdens fell slightly from 32.0 percent in 2016 to 31.5 percent in 2017. However, despite the decrease in the number, the share of cost-burdened households remains larger than it was in 2001.

4. How the Presence and Type of Down Payment Assistance Affects the Performance of Affordable Mortgage Loans
Even though Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac returned to very-low down payment lending following the financial crisis, saving for a down payment remains one of the biggest barriers to obtaining a home mortgage. What is most striking about this return to high-leverage home lending is the proliferation of more than 2,500 privately sponsored and government-funded down payment assistance (DPA) programs across the country, which have the collective effect of reducing first-time homebuyers’ contributions from as little as 3 percent to something substantially less.

5. Changes in Supply and Demand at Various Segments of the Rental Market: How Do They Match Up?
A growing number of low-income renters are competing for a shrinking number of low-rent units. This is the basic conclusion of our new analysis of rental markets which compares changes in the rental supply at various rent levels with changes in the number of renter households at various income levels.