ABOUT THIS SERIES: Across the West, the costs associated with renting or buying a property have skyrocketed, forcing individuals and families to make tough decisions about what a home should look like in a volatile market. The median asking price for rent in the United States recently topped $2,000 for the first time ever, and the cost of buying a home has soared as much as 25% in some cities in the past year alone . These increases have pushed the housing crisis in the West to breaking point, making the American dream of stable housing accessible to fewer and fewer families and individuals. This series, Squeezed Out, observes the current state of the housing market and the challenges it presents to renters and buyers, as well as possible solutions to the problems. More than a dozen reporters, photographers and editors from Lee Enterprises locations across the West contributed to this series.
In Western cities, the average purchase price has climbed 25% over the past year, pushing the American dream of homeownership even further out of reach.
It’s the worst of both worlds: even though the historic rise in house prices is slowing, prices remain high and interest rates rise. As a result, middle-class homebuyers are already struggling to find a home they can afford in a place they want to live in the face of even tougher times.
They are competing with cash-rich investors who don’t need mortgages and are finding fewer new homes to choose from as homebuilders slack off on new construction.
Across the West, renters are being displaced when their apartments are converted to condos or their mobile home parks are sold to developers looking for land to build on.
High house prices hurt one group that isn’t even looking to buy: renters. Western tenants are being displaced by condominium apartment complexes, mobile home parks being sold for land and rents doubling as landlords find they can attract people who have money but don’t still can’t afford to buy houses. Those who stay are seeing their monthly payments skyrocket as remote workers move in and demand increases, and potential buyers can’t find places they can afford. All of this pushed the median asking price for rent in the United States past $2,000 for the very first time.
Communities seem to have three choices: expand, grow, or stop growing.
how to bring down homand price? Spreading, filling or regulation. Building on the outskirts, where land is cheaper, allows for cheaper homes to be built, but means scraping up open land and encouraging gas mileage as homeowners drive farther. Building on existing land in town allows developers to move up when they can’t get out, but rampaging NIMBYism often makes that impossible. Affordable housing requirements can create units for renters across the city, but some states specifically prohibit them.
FIRST TIME BUYER:
After many failed attempts, here I am sitting, a young non-traditional shopper in my own home.
Rotting floors, standing water and rejected offers left a Montana house hunter frustrated and discouraged. During the short time that Amy Lynn Nelson dreamed of becoming a first-time home buyer in Billings, Montana, the housing market had changed dramatically. Her choices, she said, ranged from chicken coop to ramshackle hut. But patience and connections helped her learn to work in a tough housing system — and finally land a small-town bungalow on her own.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
Countless individuals and families across the West are navigating a volatile housing market. In many cities and towns, the cost of renting or owning is increasing. Tenants facing big rate hikes are being forced to move elsewhere, and potential buyers are competing with deep-pocketed investors and all-cash offers. Here’s what tenants and buyers in the West have to say about the market.