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Conor Sen

A New Set of Housing Winners and Losers Is Emerging

Economic inequality this decade will largely be defined by those who bought homes before 2022 and those who didn’t.

Housing has become a market of haves and have nots. 

Housing has become a market of haves and have nots. 

Photographer: Taehoon Kim/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The 2008 financial crisis created of a set of real estate winners and losers -- both at the household and geographic level -- based on how they were positioned in the housing market at the time. Many saw the equity in their homes wiped out, and communities with economies heavily dependent upon residential construction and real estate activity – such as fast-growing Sunbelt metro areas, particularly in the outer suburbs – saw unemployment soar, setting back them back years. Central business district cities such as Manhattan and San Francisco, with economies less tied to housing construction and where workers were less likely to own homes, bounced back first.

This bifurcation contributed to the widening of economic inequality in the following years, with jobs and wealth growing faster in urban cores than in the places that suffered the most wealth destruction and unemployment during the housing downturn.