Housing inventory dam may leak a bit next year

SANTA CLARA
August 10, 2017 8:50am
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•  Survey finds why homeowners aren’t selling

•  “We may see more of these homes hitting the market in the next year”


The seemingly intractable housing shortage might suddenly ease next year, data from a recent survey suggest.

Approximately 59 percent of respondents to the survey paid for by realtor.com say they are not planning to sell their home in the next year, with nearly 35 percent planning to sell, and nearly 6 percent unsure.

Taking a look at age segments of those with plans to sell next year reveals 60 percent of these potential sellers are Millennials who are selling to move to a larger home (25 percent), or one with nicer features (24 percent), realtor.com says.

Millennials with plans to sell could mean good news for buyers, as starter homes remain the most sought after price point in today's market. According to realtor.com, the supply of starter homes on the market is down 17 percent year over year, as compared to medium sized home inventory which is down 10 percent, and larger size home supply which is down 5 percent year over year.

"The housing shortage forced many first time home buyers to consider smaller homes and condos as a way to literally get their foot in the door," says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com. "Our survey data reveals that we may see more of these homes hitting the market in the next year, but whether these owners actually list will depend on whether they can find another home."

Another reason for the worst inventory deficiency in 20 years is Baby Boomers' reluctance to sell and homes fitting current family needs.

More than eight out of ten (85 percent) of boomers surveyed indicated they are not planning to sell their home in the next year. Homeownership among boomers, at 78 percent, is nearly twice as high as Millennials, at 41 percent.

As boomers decide to stay put so are approximately 33 million properties, many of which are urban condos or suburban single-family homes – the most popular choices for Millennials.

"Boomers indeed hold the key to those homes the market desperately needs, both in the urban condo and the detached suburban home segment," says Ms. Hale. "But with a strong economy and rising home prices, there's really no reason for established homeowners to sell in the short term. Although down-sizing might be on the minds of boomers, they face the same inventory shortages and price increases plaguing Millennials."

Historically, older age groups have moved about four times less than younger age groups, and while that ratio has somewhat remained stable over time, the population mix has not. The share of the population between the ages of 55 and 74 years old has increased by 30 percent in the last 30 years from 16 percent in 1985 to 21 percent in 2015.

When those with no plans to sell were asked why they wanted to stay put, approximately 63 percent indicated their current home meets the needs of their family. The other most popular reasons include low interest rates (16 percent), recently purchasing their home (15 percent), needing to make home improvements and low property taxes (each cited by approximately 13 percent of respondents).

"Life events drive real estate transactions," says Ms. Hale. "When the majority of home owners feel their family needs are being met by their current home, there is nothing compelling them to put their home on the market."

According to the survey's findings, the reasons for staying put differ significantly by age. For instance, 72 percent of Baby Boomers indicated their current home fits the needs of their family. This is followed by low interest rates (16 percent), concerns about financial security (13 percent), and the need to make some home improvements (12 percent).

A majority of Millennials, 52 percent, also indicated that their top reason for not selling is their home fits their family needs. This was followed by 27 percent recently purchasing their home and approximately 16 percent citing low interest rates. For Gen Y, the top reasons not to sell include: home meeting family needs (65 percent), low interest rates (16 percent), and low property taxes (16 percent).

About the survey

The findings are part of an online survey of 1,054 randomly selected homeowners across the U.S. conducted on behalf of realtor.com between July 6 and 13. The respondents were asked a series of questions aimed at examining the root causes of the current national inventory shortage.

Realtor.com is an online real estate destination operated by News Corp [NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA]; [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move Inc.


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