The scars of the Great Recession are showing on the housing market, as experts say the consumer price index numbers to be released Tuesday will show home ownership has declined to 1998 levels. This drop is due not only to people boxed out of the housing market—because of foreclosure, unemployment, or trapped in homes worth less than their mortgage—but because many people who could afford to own are opting out. “They’re renting and they’re happy renting because they’re scared to own,” said Douglas Yearley Jr., chief executive of the building company Toll Brothers. Builders have begun to adapt to the changes, as construction on multiunit houses is up 22 percent this year while construction on single-family homes is down 21 percent.
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