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State of the Nation

U.S. Housing Markets Remain Mired

Millions of homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth; existing home sales remain weak; and new home sales are similarly depressed, according to The State of the Nation’s Housing report released by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University.


Although there are no signs yet of a broad turnaround in housing, the report states the market could turn quickly as evidenced by the healthy boost in home sales and prices brought about by the 2010 homebuyer tax credit. “The ingredients for a sustained recovery may be coming together,” says Chris Herbert, research director of JCHS. “But it is still not clear when homebuyers will have the urgency to return to the market in sufficient numbers to lift the market in a meaningful way.”


The vigor of the recovery in housing hinges on a return of demand, the report says. “While the sharp declines in home prices and interest rates have left homes in many places more affordable than they have been in decades, stubbornly high unemployment and tightened lending standards have limited the ability of many first-time buyers to capitalize on the situation,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of JCHS.