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Home-Ownership And The Stalled Economy

Home-ownership and housing. It’s a patchwork of red-hot and still-cold. We’ll look at housing and the U.S. economy.

In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, photo, a for sale sign with a sale pending hangs in front of a house in Mount Lebanon, Pa. The National Association of Realtors reports on the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in December on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.  (AP)

In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, photo, a for sale sign with a sale pending hangs in front of a house in Mount Lebanon, Pa. (AP)

Housing is historically one of the great engines of the American economy.  Buying houses, selling houses, building homes.  It got out of control before the great bust.  In some places, the housing market is back like gangbusters now.  But overall, nationally, housing sales slipped significantly last month.  Mortgage rates are creeping back up.  Borrowing is tougher.  But it’s more than that.  Sales are down but prices are up.  Meaning, the affluent can buy, the middle class can’t.  And then there are the young.  This hour On Point:  buying homes, selling homes, and the new dilemmas in American housing.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Neil Irwin, senior economic correspondent for the New York Times’ The Upshot. Author of “The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and A World On Fire.” (@Neil_Irwin)

Susan Wachter, professor of real estate adn financial management at  the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Bussiness. Co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research. Author of “Inflation and Pensions” and “Latin American Inflation.” (@Susan_Wachter)

Celia Chen, senior director of the Moody’s Analytics research staff.

Allen Brake, realtor at Realty Executives of St. Louis. (@allenbrake)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Why The Housing Market Is Still Stalling the Economy — “Investment in residential property remains a smaller share of the overall economy than at any time since World War II, contributing less to growth than it did even in previous steep downturns in the early 1980s, when mortgage rates hit 20 percent, or the early 1990s, when hundreds of mortgage lenders failed.”

Quartz: The bizarre reality of the US housing market: Home sales are tanking, and prices are soaring –– “Even though the sales numbers are not great at all, prices of new homes are still rising sharply. In fact, they hit an all-time high in March, when the median price of a new home was $290,000. That’s 10.4% higher than the pre-crisis peak set in March 2007. And the 11.2% price jump between February and March was the highest on record.”

The Wall Street Journal: Why the Housing Market Has Slowed — “Even though home prices have stopped falling, traditional sellers have been slow to list their homes for sale, and construction of new homes is still very low. This means there still aren’t very many homes on the market, which has pushed prices up. That’s good for homeowners, but bad for anyone looking to buy a house who doesn’t currently own one.”

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