For many Americans, finding affordable housing can be a challenge, and too often some buyers may decide to live in housing that they can’t afford. However, the number of Americans in this situation just might surprise even the most seasoned agent.

CNBC reported on a Harvard study, which found that nearly 40 million Americans live in housing beyond their means. Homeownership has gone down and rental prices keep rising. As a result, millions of people are left paying more than they reasonably should. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that home ownership keeps declining.

The center completed its 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing Report, which found that in a number of markets home prices have risen faster than wages.

“In 2016, the homeownership rate fell to 63.4 percent, marking the 12th consecutive year of declines.”

This trend has left a lot of people who would like to buy stuck in the rental life. Harvard’s study has seen this trend evolve over the last decade.

“The surge in rental demand that began in 2005 is broad-based — including several types of households that traditionally prefer homeownership.”

Another trend across the country is the increasing price of renting, with prices rising faster than inflation. Moreover, supply is short as most new development is being built in the high-end market. The Harvard study found that this is putting a strain on affordable housing across the country.

“The number of modestly priced units available for under $800 declined by 261,000 between 2005 and 2015, while the number renting for $2,000 or more jumped by 1.5 million.”

The CNBC report also found that finding affordable housing may also depend on the market. Less than 20 percent of Honolulu, and only about a quarter of residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco can afford to a buy median-priced home there. The issue also is putting a strain on the nation’s working poor, according to the report.

“Across the U.S., 70.3 percent of lowest-income households face severe housing cost burdens, including nearly nine out of 10 lowest-income renters.”

In South Florida, for example, renters are feeling the pinch when it comes time to pay the rent.  In Broward County, average rent was $1,676 in May and Palm Beach was at the same mark, up 6 percent over the last year and 15 percent over the last two years, according to Reinhold P. Wolff Economic Research.  Keith White of Wolff said rents usually increase about 3 percent a year, but demand and a tight supply are tilting the trend in favor of landlords.

“Rents have moderated a little bit, but there’s still a ways to go.”

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