Housing News

A Comparison of Harvard U's Housing Reports

Is there any significant change in findings?

Last Monday, Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released its 2009 The State of the Nation’s Housing . Unless you’re living in a cave, you probably have a good idea of where the housing market is in right now. The 44-page report paints a grim picture of what is plaguing the nation’s property market:

“At the end of 2008, first-lien loans in foreclosure stood at 3.3 percent of all loans—an increase of 62 percent in one year. The share of loans at least 60 days past due rose by almost two percentage points, to 4.8 percent, in just the last half of 2008. Unless new federal initiatives result in many more loan workouts, foreclosure filings will likely continue to rise through the first half of 2009.

“The homebuying market will continue to struggle until the foreclosure crisis comes to an end. Although new federal efforts may prevent millions of families from losing their homes, mounting job losses will likely keep foreclosures at elevated levels. At the same time, falling prices are keeping potential buyers on hold while locking millions of potential sellers in their current homes.”

We decided to check out the 2000 version and realized the upbeat market sentiment that was published:

“Powered by strong income and employment growth, the national homeownership rate reached a new annual high of 66.8 percent in 1999 and continues to climb across all geographic regions, age groups, and racial/ethnic groups. Although persistent disparities between whites and minorities narrowed only slightly, minorities still accounted for nearly 40 percent of the net growth in owners in the final half of the 1990s. Rapid household growth, combined with climbing ownership rates, has boosted the minority presence in homebuying markets.

“Homeownership has gotten an extra lift from mortgage industry innovation and outreach to low-income borrowers. With the introduction of low-downpayment products, flexible underwriting standards, and improved risk assessment tools, lenders have helped millions of low income families buy first homes. In fact, loans to low-income buyers in metro areas increased by 55 percent between 1993 and 1998, compared with a 40 percent increase in loans to high-income borrowers.”

Times have changed, America. Oh how it feels to be back in time when the country has just went through the ordeal of fearing for Y2K, Al Gore was in a tight race for the White House’s main man, and there was still no modern case of influenza with a tongue-twisting letter-number combination.

In no more than a decade, this country has gone from a booming housing market to a real estate industry pummeled by the effects of subprime lending.

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