National house prices have dipped in 19 of the 20 largest metro regions, and declines in house prices are expected to continue given the 1.9 million in backlogged foreclosures. As the American economy shifts from buying to renting, with the number of renting households rising by 700,000 annually -- according to a USA Today analysis of Census data -- the number of homeowners fell by nearly 200,000 per year. Unemployment rates remain high and wages are down, which makes it more difficult for people to buy a house and prompts them to rent.
A number of studies continue to show that renting is better than owning for many Americans, with a house being a poor investment compared to renting and investing in inflation-adjusted Treasury bonds. In the paper "American Dream or American Obsession?," Wenli Li and Fang Yang from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank concluded that the "adjusted real rate of return on housing actually falls below zero," and the national rate of return for home ownership between 1975 and 2009 was 1.3 percent, below the 3.375 percent return for stocks.
Home ownership translates into less money available for investment and owning a house limits mobility should a new job opportunity arise elsewhere. Some economists have even suggested that high home ownership rates correlate to high unemployment rates. Declines in house prices could make it difficult to sell if the house is worth less than its mortgage. Not everyone should own a house, and the recession has helped eliminate some of the stigma once associated with renting, now that 70 percent of Americans now agree that renting has its advantages over owning.
Article from National Multi Housing recent release