Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again?

The cruel realities of America's housing market.

Homes had been one of the few things resistant to online shopping: We browsed online, but we didn't buy. The pandemic changed that. The result was a market that moved much, much faster.

In 2020, 63 percent of North American home buyers made at least one offer on a home that they had never stepped into. The cutthroat competitiveness that once defined only a few U.S. markets (San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles) has now become standard across the country, as the median home price in small- and medium-size metropolitan areas rose by jaw-dropping levels.

In our cover story this week, Francesca Mari reports from Austin on the cruel realities of America's housing market, in which home prices nationwide have risen by an astonishing 24.8 percent since March 2020.

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