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Outside the Box: The U.S. housing recovery is built on quicksand

Home price gains since 2013 have been much less impressive than you think. While reports show that home prices have recovered nationwide, the increase has been uneven and not as strong as you have been led to believe.

Consider RealtyTrac’s latest report on 148 major U.S. metropolitan areas. The average gain on the sale of property was 30%. Not bad, except the average holding period was just over eight years. That comes to an annual price increase of 3.75%. High-yield corporate bonds would have earned you considerably more.

Taken together, the average gain for all metros is deceptive. While the average price gain in booming Silicon Valley was a remarkable 116%, it was a pitiful 2% in El Paso, Texas, 10% in Cleveland, and 15% in Chicago.

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