To buy or not to buy

Condo for sale signs/ Credit: Flickr user Sean Drielinger

Condo for sale signs/ Credit: Flickr user Sean Drielinger

Is the housing crisis over? While it may appear that prices have hit bottom, for those caught in the mortgage crisis, the nightmare seems far from over and others are holding back while the economy remains unsteady.

Financial journalist Terri Cullen writes at Nightly Business Report that a second “double dip” in the housing crisis is all but certain:

The last time the housing industry faced the dreaded double dip was in the early 1980s, when the economy struggled through two back-to-back recessions. Today, the economy appears to have emerged from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the housing market is being supported by a number of government policies, including a housing tax credit, increased lending by the Federal Housing Administration and historically low mortgage rates.

So it seems unlikely that another downturn in home prices would be as severe as what we’ve seen in the last two years — but I wouldn’t bet on it. All that government support is expected to wind down later this year and mortgage rates are already starting to tick higher. Meanwhile, near-record unemployment is keeping many from buying (and keeping) homes. All of these factors will put another crimp in demand.

ProPublica is trying to find those homeowners who’ve been stuck in the mortgage crisis cycle the longest. Do you know someone who’s been paying into bad loan for the better part of a year or more?

But those who are still paying mortgages, even bad ones, are far from the worst off. In New York City, families in between homeless shelters and subsidized housing are being left in limbo – there are no more federal housing vouchers to give out, as WNYC reports.

The city is trying to make changes so people can get housing, but there is a shortage:

According to the Department of Homeless Services it costs the city about $35,000 a year to house a family in a shelter, and about $13,000 a year to provide them with a housing subsidy. While extending the voucher is one fix, advocates for the poor, and elected officials want the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to also provide relief by giving families vacant public housing apartments.

So with all this uncertainty, should you invest? Take the YouDecide quiz and find out for yourself. Leave your results below and tell us what you think about the housing market.

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