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This year may be the starkest example of a post-recession reality that is redefining housing as we know it.
“This spring housing market is shaping up to be another doozy for homebuyers,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist for home-listing website Trulia. “Housing affordability is the key to helping break yet another year of gridlocked inventory, but all signs are showing that homes this spring will be much less affordable than last year.”
Affordability is being hit on several fronts: The foreclosure crisis is over, but it left behind an entirely new landscape for potential buyers. Entry-level homes are scarce because investors bought tens of thousands of them during the crisis and turned them into rentals. The number of single-family rentals jumped to more than 15 million, up from about 11 million in 2009, according to the U.S. Census.
Homebuilders continue to operate well below normal levels because of higher costs and a lack of labor, and thousands of construction workers left the business during the recession, never to return. Builders don’t focus on entry-level homes because the margins are simply too tight, and prices for new construction are also rising at a fast clip.
Palm Springs is a haven of midcentury-modern architecture, but that doesn’t mean the city is stuck in a time capsule.
The style — which became popular in the U.S. in the 1940s — still commands a hefty price. And aesthetics are only part of the appeal.
“It fits the California lifestyle,” said Paul Kaplan, director of an eponymous real estate group in Palm Springs. “There’s an endless demand from people who want something different than the Mediterranean tract home they’re used to in Orange County or San Diego.”
Midcentury-modern homes tend to be simple, informal and infused with light. Interior spaces blend with outside nature via wide swaths of glass and a post-and-beam construction technique that eliminates heavy support walls. Hollow cement breeze blocks, wood, steel and raked concrete are popular materials.