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Is he saying to get off the couch and move?

“Since last year, several forces have helped increase the market potential for existing-home sales,” said Fleming. “House-buying power, driven by falling mortgage rates and rising household income, contributed to a gain of 183,000 potential home sales compared with one year ago. Compared with May 2018, rising house prices also contributed positively, increasing the market potential for home sales by 41,000.

“Additionally, loosening credit standards boosted the marketing potential for home sales by more than 60,000 sales over the last year. Some modest growth in new-home construction also added 1,000 potential home sales,” said Fleming. “Finally, the growth in household formation, as millennials continue to form households, contributed nearly 81,000 potential home sales compared with a year ago. Despite all the positives, the market potential for home sales remains nearly 80,000 units below the level of a year ago.”

Unprecedented Homebody Era is Here

“Collectively, the aforementioned market forces contributed to a positive gain of 366,000 potential home sales, but it was not enough to offset the loss of 446,000 potential sales due to the impact of rising tenure. The average tenure length, the amount of time a typical homeowner lives in their home, has increased dramatically in the last year,” said Fleming. “Since existing homeowners supply the majority of the homes for sale and increasing tenure length indicates homeowners are not selling, the housing market faces an ongoing supply shortage – you can’t buy what’s not for sale.

“Before the housing market crash in 2007, the average length of time someone lived in their home was approximately five years. Average tenure length jumped to seven years during the aftermath of the housing market crisis between 2008 and 2016,” said Fleming. “The most recent data shows that the average length of time someone lives in their home reached 11.3 years in May 2019, a 10 percent increase compared with a year ago.

“Two trends are driving the increase in tenure length. The majority of existing homeowners have mortgages with historically low rates, so there is limited incentive to sell if it will cost them more each month to borrow the same amount of money from the bank,” said Fleming. “While mortgage rates have come down compared with last year, they are still below the 3.5 percent mortgage rates of 2016.

“The second trend influencing tenure is seniors aging in place. A recent study from Freddie Mac shows that if seniors and adults born between 1931-1959 behaved like earlier generations, nearly 1.6 million housing units would have come to market by 2018,” said Fleming. “Improvements in health care and technology have made aging in place easier, which has meant fewer homes on the market.

“So far in 2019, the market potential for existing-home sales has benefited from lower mortgage rates and rising household income, all contributing to stronger house-buying power,” said Fleming. “Surging consumer house-buying power coupled with rising household formation has resulted in strong demand for homes.

“Yet, today, we are in an unprecedented homebody era as many existing homeowners continue to feel rate-locked into their homes and seniors continue to age in place. Looking ahead, more than half of all existing-homes are owned by baby boomers and the silent generation and they will eventually age out of homeownership,” said Fleming. “But right now, housing supply remains tight – you can’t buy what’s not sale — and market potential is lower because of it.”

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