The Extraordinary Wealth Created by the Pandemic Housing Market

By: New York Times 

Rarely have so many Americans gained so much equity in so little time, but it’s also inseparable from the housing affordability crisis.

Over the past two years, Americans who own their homes have gained more than $6 trillion in housing wealth. To be clear, that doesn’t mean homebuilders have transferred to buyers $6 trillion worth of new housing, or that existing homeowners have made $6 trillion in kitchen and bathroom upgrades.

Rather, most of this money has been created by the simple fact that housing, in short supply and high demand across America, has appreciated at record pace during the pandemic. Millions of people — broadly spread among the 65 percent of American households who own their home — have gained a share of this windfall.

It’s a remarkably positive story for Americans who own a home; it’s also inseparable from the housing affordability crisis for those who don’t. For them, rents are rapidly rising. Inflation is whittling away their incomes. And the very thing that has created all this wealth has pushed homeownership as a means of wealth-building further out of reach.

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