A look at the haves and have-nots in the housing market


A new study examines income inequality in housing sector. (AP Photo/Frank Perry)

Sure, there’s a housing recovery underway. But not everyone’s feeling it, not by a long shot.

An exhaustive study of the 2,200 largest cities and towns in the nation found that the steady recovery in housing prices during the past two years “masks wide local discrepancies, with some markets soaring ahead of others.”

The Demand Institute, a nonprofit group jointly run by the Conference Board and Nielsen, took the total value of the homes occupied by their owners in each city and ranked them.  The group found that the top 10 percent on that list held 52 percent of the total housing wealth – a total of $4.4 trillion. The bottom 40 percent held just 8 percent, or $700 billion worth.

The study also delved into increases in home prices and found big disparities in terms of future gain.  The states likely to see the strongest rise in median price of an existing single-family home are New Mexico, Maine and Illinois – all of which are projected to see prices rise more than 30 percent measuring from the market trough in early 2012 through 2018.

Ranking at the bottom of that list: Washington, D.C. (6 percent), Minnesota (13 percent), Virginia (14 percent), New York (14 percent) and Alaska (15 percent.)  The authors acknowledged that some areas, including the Washington region, held up relatively well during the housing crisis, and therefore their prices did not crash.  As a result, price increases in those areas are more moderate.

Dina ElBoghdady covers housing policy for The Washington Post.

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Zachary A. Goldfarb · February 26, 2014

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