A common complaint from home buyers is that there is lack of quality homes for sale. A fact that most overlook is that home sale inventory has been relatively low since 2011. The shortage has been attributed to many things including home prices, economy, mortgage interest rates, jobs, etc. However, a Freddie Mac report issued earlier this year pinpoints a major cause of the ongoing inventory shortage. According to the report, the housing shortage may get worse before it gets better.
A post-recession housing inventory shortage was actually predicted in 2010 by Brian Wesbury, chief economist for First Trust Advisers (Housing Shortage Coming In 2011; Forbes.com; February 15, 2010). Wesbury’s industry startling prediction was based on statistics that require an average of 1.5 million homes to be added to the housing inventory each year just to be on par with population growth. At that time, housing starts and completions were only a fraction of the 1.5 million target.
Since then, housing market inventory has been low relative to the housing market prior to the great recession. A lack of inventory has been attributed for inconsistent home sale stats this year, as well as previous years. Although there have been a few years of post-recession record home sales, home sales have struggled for ten years to surpass pre-recession numbers.
A study by Freddie Mac discusses one of the major causes of the recent housing shortage that has been impeding the real estate market, which is the growing trend of “aging in place.” The study, published by Freddie Mac Insights earlier this year (While Seniors Age in Place, Millennials Wait Longer and May Pay More for their First Homes; freddiemac.com; February 6, 2019), is fueling an ongoing debate of the current housing shortage.
Aging in place is term given to aging home owners who stay in their homes as long as possible. Rather than moving to retirement communities or other stereotypical older adult housing, seniors are staying put. This trend is confirmed by a survey conducted by AARP that indicated “three out of four adults, age 50 and older, want to stay in their homes and communities as they age” (2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Age 18-Plus; aarp.org; August 2018).
To highlight the impact of the current trend of aging in place, the Freddie Mac report pointed out that the home ownership rate for seniors aged 67 to 85 only dropped 3.6%, while the previous generation experienced a 11.6% drop in homeownership for the same age span. A major revelation was that the current homeownership rate for seniors aged 81 to 85 is almost 15 times greater than the previous generation (for the same age span).
The study looked at subdued millennial home buying trends and who lived in the homes that millennials could have purchased. The results indicated that seniors born after 1931 stayed in their homes longer, which resulted in higher homeownership rates compared to previous generations. According to the study, “We estimate that this trend accounts for about 1.6 million houses held back from the market through 2018, representing about one year’s typical supply of new construction, or more than half of the current shortfall of 2.5 million housing units…This additional demand for homeownership from seniors will increase the relative price of owning versus renting, making renting more attractive to younger generations…”
Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX Success in Potomac, MD. You can access more information at DanKrell.com