America is facing its worst housing shortage in 50 years. Don’t expect an improvement any time soon.

With a nationwide shortage of 3.8 million single-family homes, it is a fantastic time to be a home seller, but a frightening and frustrating time to be a buyer. The astonishing real estate practices that once were limited to a few overheated West and East Coast markets — bidding wars for new listings, all-cash offers, sales well above asking price — have spread inland to places like Austin, Boise, Charlotte and Denver.

This housing crunch was years in the making. Its unique qualities mean it’ll take years to resolve. Here’s why you’re going to see elevated prices for some time.

Bad timing

When the housing market plummeted in 2008 after the subprime mortgage crash, an entire generation of young adults lost confidence in the long-held American belief that homeownership was a solid…

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