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Climate change will transform what it means to be a homeowner

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Will home ownership always be part of the American dream?
  • Alexandra Ossola
By Alexandra Ossola

Membership editor


In the months since coronavirus put the US on pause, few industries have been as scrambled as real estate. Despite industry-boosting mortgage rates and a sales bonanza in certain suburban markets, the industry has recovered slowly. High unemployment, plus continued Covid-19 outbreaks, have put a damper on real estate. In May, sales reached their lowest rate in nearly a decade, though they rose in July.

Despite 2020’s curveballs, home sales in the US haven’t been great for a while. Prices far outpaced inflation, especially in the most competitive markets, putting ownership out of reach for many Americans. Between 1981 and 2016, the age of the typical home buyer increased from 25-31 to 44, and a smaller percentage (pdf) of Americans owned homes in 2019 than they did in 1997.

Folks want a home of their own for lots of reasons. They might see them as an investment, or a more affordable option in the long run. Maybe it’s because remote work leaves them untethered to cities, or because it’s what they think they should do as newlyweds or young parents.

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