The Decline in Home Affordability

The Decline in Home Affordability cover picture shows a craftsman home front door surrounded by confederate jasamine.

The Decline in Home Affordability:  The Ongoing Housing Affordability Crisis in America


Undoubtedly, the state of housing in the United States remains a pressing concern for many Americans. Despite slowing inflation and a surge in job growth, the burden of expensive housing persists. In fact, this crisis has been fueled by a combination of high demand, low inventory, and fluctuating mortgage rates. Consequently, it’s crucial to delve into the root causes, regional variations, and potential solutions to this multifaceted issue.

The Decline in Home Affordability:  How Did We Get Here?

Primarily, the current predicament faced by renters and homebuyers is intrinsically linked to high housing demand, low housing inventory, and the Federal Reserve’s cycle of hiking interest rates. Initially, very low mortgage rates, reaching a historic low of 2.65% in January 2021, ignited demand but simultaneously drove up prices. Moreover, this surge in demand was exacerbated by the scarcity of housing inventory. Subsequently, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in 2022 to combat inflation, which in turn influenced mortgage rates.

These rates peaked at nearly 8% in October, putting substantial constraints on housing supply as more homeowners chose to stay put. Currently, the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stands at 6.77%. Furthermore, a lack of housing stock, both for sale and overall inventory, has emerged as a key long-run problem for housing affordability. Additionally, the lack of accessible rental inventory that provides both single-family and multi-family rental housing has compounded the issue.

The Decline in Home Affordability:  Other Contributing Factors

Apart from demand and inventory, several other factors have contributed to the housing affordability crisis. Firstly, there is a shortage of developed land for construction, particularly in highly dense, heavily regulated markets within large metros experiencing significant population growth. Secondly, the construction industry faces a shortage of labor, with a 2023 Home Builders Institute report indicating the need for hundreds of thousands of additional workers to meet residential construction demand. Additionally, a 2021 survey found that around 90% of single-family home builders reported a shortage of carpenters, while more than 80% of remodelers cited a shortage in most of the construction trades they required subcontractors for.

Lastly, expensive building materials, partly affected by supply chain problems, have exacerbated the problem. Consequently, these factors have coalesced to create a perfect storm, making housing increasingly unaffordable for many Americans.

The Decline in Home Affordability:  The Role of the Federal Reserve

Amidst this crisis, the Federal Reserve’s actions regarding interest rates have garnered significant attention. Specifically, the Fed is expected to cut rates this year, which could potentially have some impact on housing prices. However, economists caution that meaningful relief may not be immediate. While rate cuts may not occur until May or later, multiple cuts are forecast for 2023.

Many homebuyers and renters are hopeful that a reduction in interest rates could translate into lower home and rental prices, as a lack of homebuying activity can drive up rental costs. Nevertheless, economists remain skeptical about substantial relief in the near term. As Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, explains, “It should push mortgage rates down into the low 6% range and perhaps in 2025 moving into the high 5s. That’s not the 2 to 3% rate that we saw earlier, but it will help price in some demand by lowering the monthly payment on a hypothetical mortgage. It is going to have a disproportionate impact on first-time buyers who tend to be particularly sensitive to changes in rates because they don’t have any home equity as first-time buyers.”

Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic, echoes a similar sentiment, stating, “Because home prices have gone up 40%, no matter how much you adjust mortgage rates — and we’re not expecting them to come down to 2% any time soon if ever again — you’d really have to get them to 2% to get that affordability back.”

The Decline in Home Affordability:  Regional Variations

While the housing affordability crisis is a nationwide phenomenon, its impact varies across different regions of the country. According to CoreLogic’s data, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island experienced the highest home price increases in December, although no states saw home prices decline.

Hepp notes that this is significant because, until this report, a few states, including Utah, Idaho, and the District of Columbia, continued to show year-over-year declines. She attributes this change to people moving from parts of California and Seattle, driving up home prices in their new states.

A Moody’s Investor Service report released in October revealed that Florida, Montana, Nevada, and Idaho experienced the largest declines in affordability, partly due to growth in new residents. However, no part of the country has been spared from the effects of rising housing prices.

Matthew Walsh, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, points out that some of the fastest price appreciation has been observed in parts of the Northeast and Midwest. These regions, previously more affordable compared to areas that saw an influx of residents earlier in the pandemic, such as metro areas in Mountain states like Colorado and Arizona, are now experiencing rapid price increases. Walsh further elaborates, “The places where we’ve seen the most moderation in home prices have been in the places that lost that affordability edge… Some of the fastest growing places in the northeast, like upstate New York, a place that really hasn’t seen quick increases in home prices in a long time, have been showing signs of life over the past year.”

The Decline in Home Affordability:  The Sunshine State Squeeze

While the housing affordability crisis has impacted Americans across the country, Florida residents have found themselves particularly squeezed. In fact, according to the Moody’s Investor Service report, Florida was one of the states that experienced the largest declines in housing affordability, mainly due to substantial growth in new residents.

The influx of people moving to Florida, lured by its warm climate, beaches, and lack of a state income tax, has placed tremendous pressure on the state’s housing market. Consequently, home prices and rents have skyrocketed, making it increasingly difficult for many Floridians, especially those on fixed or lower incomes, to find affordable housing options.

In metropolitan areas like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando, the situation is even more dire. These cities have witnessed an unprecedented surge in housing demand, fueled by a combination of out-of-state transplants, investors seeking rental properties, and a growing population of remote workers who can now call Florida home.

The Decline in Home Affordability:  The Numbers

The numbers paint a stark picture. According to data from Florida Realtors, the median sale price for a single-family home in the state reached $407,000 in December 2023, a staggering 5.7% increase from the previous year. Furthermore, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Miami now hovers around $2,500 per month, making it one of the least affordable rental markets in the nation.

For many longtime Florida residents, this rapid escalation in housing costs has been nothing short of a crisis. Families who have called the state home for generations are finding themselves priced out of their neighborhoods, forced to either endure lengthy commutes or relocate altogether. Additionally, essential workers, such as teachers, nurses, and first responders, are struggling to find housing they can afford near their places of employment.

In response, some local governments have taken action. Cities like Miami and Tampa have implemented rental assistance programs and explored initiatives to incentivize the development of affordable housing units. However, these efforts have yet to make a significant dent in the overall affordability crisis.

As Florida continues to attract new residents, the pressure on the state’s housing market is likely to persist. Without a comprehensive, statewide strategy to address the issue, many Floridians may find themselves priced out of the very paradise they call home.


The Decline in Home Affordability:  St Pete’s Struggle for Affordable Living

The housing affordability crisis has hit the vibrant city of St. Petersburg particularly hard. As a popular destination for retirees, young professionals, and families alike, St. Pete’s charming neighborhoods and picturesque waterfront have made it a highly desirable place to live. However, this very appeal has contributed to skyrocketing housing costs that are pricing out many longtime residents.

In recent years, St. Petersburg has experienced a surge of newcomers from higher-cost regions like the Northeast and California. This influx, combined with limited housing inventory and rising construction costs, has caused home prices and rents to soar. According to, the median listing price for a home in St. Petersburg was $449,000 as of late 2023, a staggering 32% increase compared to just two years prior.

The rental market paints an equally challenging picture. Average rents for a one-bedroom apartment now hover around $1,700 per month, making it exceedingly difficult for many workers, including those in vital industries like healthcare, education, and service, to find affordable places to live near their jobs.

The Decline in Home Affordability:  Fixed Incomes

Consequently, many longtime St. Petersburg residents are being displaced from the very communities they’ve called home for decades. Retirees on fixed incomes are finding it nearly impossible to keep up with rising property taxes and housing costs. Meanwhile, younger residents aspiring to lay down roots are often forced to look for more affordable options outside the city limits, enduring lengthy commutes or foregoing their St. Pete dreams altogether.

Local officials have taken steps to address the crisis, such as implementing rental assistance programs and exploring incentives for developers to include affordable units in new projects. However, these efforts have yet to make a significant impact on the overall affordability landscape.

As St. Petersburg continues to attract new residents drawn to its laid-back charm and coastal lifestyle, the pressure on the housing market shows no signs of abating. Without bold, innovative solutions that address both supply and demand, this once-affordable haven risks becoming a playground solely for the wealthy, pricing out the very people who have contributed to its unique character and appeal.


The Decline in Home Affordability:  Policy Responses and Initiatives

In response to the housing affordability crisis, some states and cities have taken steps to improve their affordable housing stock. For instance, a program in Maine is funding more affordable rental housing, including the improvement of existing housing. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program is expanding rental assistance.

Furthermore, voters in Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico, supported bond measures last year that will allocate millions of dollars towards affordable housing. In 2022, voters approved housing bonds to fund more affordable housing for Buncombe County, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; and Kansas City, Missouri. Additionally, localities in Colorado and Montana voted to use tax revenues for affordable housing development and projects in 2023.

At the federal level, the Biden administration announced in July that it would address low housing supply by incentivizing projects with greater density and creating a program to fund projects focused on zoning reforms. In October, the administration introduced new housing initiatives to increase homeownership, such as loans to boost affordable housing on tribal lands and allowing homeowners to use prospective rental income from “dwelling units” at their home as part of their income when qualifying for FHA-insured mortgages.

However, some economists argue that zoning regulations are far too restrictive to effectively increase housing supply and make it more affordable. As Dietz suggests, “Government policies to address housing affordability should include thinking about ways to incentivize state and local governments to reduce regulatory burdens and enact zoning reform to promote density where the market demands it.”

The Decline in Home Affordability:  Conclusion

The housing affordability crisis in America is a complex, multi-layered issue that demands immediate and comprehensive solutions. While nationwide factors like high demand, low inventory, and fluctuating mortgage rates have played pivotal roles, the crisis has manifested in unique ways across different regions of the country.

In Florida, the situation has become particularly acute. The state’s allure as a warm-weather haven, coupled with its lack of a state income tax, has fueled an influx of new residents and investors. This surge in demand, coupled with limited housing stock, has sent home prices and rents soaring, squeezing many longtime Floridians out of the communities they’ve called home for generations.

The impact is especially visible in cities like St Petersburg. Once an affordable coastal gem, St. Pete’s charm and waterfront appeal have made it a highly desirable destination, driving housing costs through the roof. Retirees, young professionals, and families alike now find themselves priced out of the market, forced to either endure lengthy commutes or abandon their dreams of living in this vibrant city altogether.

The Decline in Home Affordability:  Government

While efforts are underway at various levels of government to address the crisis, these measures have yet to provide substantial relief. Rental assistance programs, developer incentives, and zoning reform initiatives are steps in the right direction, but a more comprehensive, multi-pronged approach is needed.

Ultimately, solving the housing affordability crisis will require collaboration between federal, state, and local governments, as well as private sector stakeholders. Increasing the supply of affordable housing, implementing sensible zoning regulations, and providing targeted financial assistance to those most in need must be priorities.

For regions like Florida and cities like St. Petersburg, the stakes are high. Without bold action, these once-attainable havens risk becoming enclaves solely for the wealthy, eroding the very fabric of their communities and pricing out the individuals who have contributed to their unique characters and appeal.

As the nation grapples with this crisis, it is imperative that we approach it with a sense of urgency and a willingness to explore innovative solutions. The American dream of affordable homeownership and accessible rental housing must remain within reach for all, regardless of location or income level. Only then can we ensure that our communities remain vibrant, diverse, and truly livable for generations to come.

If you are looking for a Realtor in St Petersburg FL visit

Check out this article next

Crepe Restaurant Opens

Crepe Restaurant Opens

Crepe Restaurant Opens:  Crepeway Caffe: A New Culinary Adventure Awaits in Downtown St. Pete In the bustling heart of downtown St. Petersburg, a new culinary adventure…

Read Article
About the Author
Rob Johnson
Realtor, St. Petersburg FL