For many of us, heading home for the holidays means heading back to homes we could never afford today. Back when our parents were buying, home values were a far smaller percentage of annual incomes. A nice house in a nice neighborhood didn't mean leveraging your pocketbook for life.
Home values today are crawling back from an epic housing crash, but potential buyers are constrained by a tricky triad of tight credit, limited supply and shifting attitudes toward home ownership overall. Prices bounced back dramatically last year, thanks to investor demand on the low end of the market. Now, as there are fewer distressed homes for investors to buy, the market is left to mortgage-dependent, owner occupants; hence the price gains are easing.