Why do we care about housing numbers?

It’s pretty typical when I see a news story to see it in relation to a whole host of similar stories I’d seen recently.  This isn’t always a case of multiple news organizations covering the same story — sometimes, it seems like once a big story breaks, a bunch of copycat stories trickle out, but sometimes, I see connections in stories that aren’t obviously connected at all.  This morning, for instance, I read an article from Zillow about home affordability — the gist is that our current low rates are masking an underlying trend toward higher home costs for most buyers, relative to income.

So what’s this connected to?

Good Ol' White Picket Fence

Good Ol’ White Picket Fence (Photo credit: porziuncola)

I think this is just another example of our middle class getting squeezed from all directions.  I recently shared some of my thoughts about the inequality I saw the first time I visited Silicon Valley.  Housing is a great indicator for the overall health of the economy — we’ve seen over the last ten years or so just how powerfully this can manifest in our overall economy, so I absolutely believe that when we see home affordability trending in one direction or the other, it’s worth paying attention to.

Housing, I believe, is also one of the issues that’s got the potential to reach across our political aisles to unite us as Americans.  After all, liberals want to see everyone have access to decent housing, and I’ve never met a conservative that wasn’t a proponent of the family values we know to be associated with all those white picket fences.  People are better citizens when they’ve got some skin in their communities, and home ownership is the single most tangible way for that to happen — period.

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