The Housing Bust's Long Shadow
House prices may have recovered from the mortgage-lending debacle of the 2000s, but millions of people who lived through the mess still have a long way to go.
A new report from the Urban Institute's Housing Finance Policy Center offers a valuable glimpse at what has happened to the U.S. population's housing and credit status since the turn of the century. Of particular interest: A group of about 19 million renters who, at some point in the past 16 years, used to be homeowners.
People can become renters for various reasons, such as moving for a job or downsizing in retirement. The data, though, suggest that this group consists largely of people who lost their homes because of unaffordable loans, the housing bust and the subsequent economic slump. They are mostly middle-aged, unusually likely to have foreclosures or other black marks on their credit records, and are concentrated in bubble states such as Arizona, California and Florida. Here's a breakdown by age:
For these housing refugees, homeownership remains mostly out of reach, leaving them vulnerable to rent increases that have accelerated since the economy hit bottom in mid-2009. As of 2015, some 45 percent had credit scores of 650 or less, below the threshold typically required to qualify for a mortgage. The only group with a worse credit profile is renters who have never had a mortgage -- but they tend to be much younger, so they’ve had less time to build their credit. Here's a breakdown by housing and mortgage status:
In short, the picture isn’t pretty. Despite the Federal Reserve's efforts to shore up house prices, despite the tens of billions of dollars in legal settlements paid by mortgage lenders, the housing crisis is still with us -- and probably will be for a long time to come.
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