Whether you think there has been a housing “recovery” or not is a matter of perspective. Sales are indeed up 117% since the 2010 low, but that low was literally the worst level in the history of this data (since 1963) as a percentage of population growth. It was the Great Depression of Housing, the only possible result of the greatest housing bubble since the 1920s, if not in history. While sales have rebounded since that low, the current sales rate has barely recovered to the levels seen at the recession lows of 1991 and 1982. This rebound is little more than a dead cat bounce after 6 years of recovery, and now it may be faltering.
Mainstream economists give the Fed credit for stimulating this “recovery.” But, in fact the Fed has created a Catch 22 with no way out. The only thing the Fed has stimulated is house price inflation while destroying interest income on savings for millions of ordinary Americans, especially former middle class retirees. With mortgage rates pushed down to all time lows, house prices have consequently inflated at a rate that offsets the buyer’s savings in the interest component of the mortgage. Meanwhile American savers have lost not only massive purchasing power, but also have been forced to consume principal. The Fed has not stimulated sales but it has succeeded in transferring wealth away from those who can least afford it to those who least deserve it.
Had mortgage rates stopped falling at higher levels, house price inflation would have been stunted. More of a buyer’s mortgage payment would have been apportioned toward the higher interest component of the payment and less toward inflating the purchase price.
But the Fed got the result it intended. It wanted to inflate prices to save the banks from their stupidity and criminality. Decisions were made at the highest levels of the Fed and the Federal Government to not only let the banks off the hook, but to rescue them. The only way to do that was to forego prosecution of massive criminal wrongdoing, and to engineer price inflation, so that the criminal perpetrators of the fraud that drove the Great Bubble would be free to re-offend.