As Americans took to their backyards and beaches to celebrate the unofficial start of summer this week, America’s housing industry—for the first time in years—is celebrating right along with them. In the past two months, home sales reached a level not seen since before the financial crisis in 2008, and the price of new homes—taken as a sign of the real estate market’s resurgence—reached their highest level in 20 years.
Many in the political and financial class are holding up this relatively positive new housing data as proof that the country has reached an economic oasis. And at first blush, the situation can be construed to be positive. The value of the U.S. housing market has climbed back to $16 trillion, exactly where it was before the economic crisis. Home prices and permits for new construction are up by double digits nationwide.
But rather than an oasis, these new gains might be an economic mirage. The reality of the current real estate renaissance is that the rich and those on Wall Street are raking in the cash while large segments of the population—especially historically marginalized communities—remain stuck in a downward, alternate housing reality.