Existing Home Sales To Grow 3.7 Percent In 2018, But Inventory Shortages And Tax Reform Effects Loom

According to Yun, the biggest impediment to sales right now and into next year is the massive shortage of supply in relation to overall demand. The lagging pace of new home construction in recent years is further creating a logjam in housing turnover. Without enough new homes on the market, homeowners are typically staying put for a longer period of time before selling, typically 10 years, which is keeping inventory low and hurting affordability.

"The lack of inventory has pushed up home prices by 48 percent from the low point in 2011, while wage growth over the same period has been only 15 percent," said Yun. "Despite improving confidence this year from renters that now is a good time to buy a home, the inability for them to do so is causing them to miss out on the significant wealth gains that homeowners have benefitted from through rising home values."

Pointing to Los Angeles and the Bay Area as examples of areas with significant affordability constraints, Yun said unhealthy levels of price appreciation are also occurring in many other markets with strong job growth, but without the commensurate rise in housing starts. As a result, the ability to buy a home has become extremely difficult for even those with well-paying jobs and is forcing households to flee expensive areas in the West and Mountain regions for more affordable parts of the country. This in turn could affect future job growth in these areas and ultimately soften housing demand.

Although Yun forecasts single-family housing starts to jump 9.4 percent to 950,000 next year, this is still below the 50-year average of around 1.2 million starts. New single-family home sales are likely to total 606,000 this year and rise to around 690,000 in 2018.

identifies 25 ideas to bolster homeownership. They include: overriding restrictive zoning laws, promoting modular construction [to increase supply], a down payment savings program, tackling the burden of student debt, and a nationwide counseling program for homeowners who previously experienced foreclosure and may be hesitant to consider buying a home again, among others.  " data-reactid="47">Rosen agreed with Yun's remarks that a significant boost in residential construction is needed to improve affordability and increase sales. He explained that the white paper released today, "Rebuilding the American Dream: Strategies to Sustainably Increase Homeownership," identifies 25 ideas to bolster homeownership. They include: overriding restrictive zoning laws, promoting modular construction [to increase supply], a down payment savings program, tackling the burden of student debt, and a nationwide counseling program for homeowners who previously experienced foreclosure and may be hesitant to consider buying a home again, among others.  

"A willingness to embrace new ideas will go a long way towards easing the constraints of low supply, student debt and weaker affordability that are currently suppressing homeownership," said Rosen.

After two consecutive quarters of economic growth of 3 percent, Yun expects GDP to come in around 2.2 percent for the year and to expand to 2.7 percent overall in 2018, as long as job growth remains solid and residential construction picks up.  

With the Federal Reserve unwinding its balance sheet and continuing its plan to slowly raise short-term rates, Yun believes mortgage rates will gradually climb towards 4.50 percent by the end of 2018.

"An overwhelming majority of renters want to own a home in the future and believe it is part of their American Dream," said Yun. "Assuming there are no changes to the tax code that hurt homeownership, the gradually expanding economy and continued job creation should set the stage for a more meaningful increase in home sales in 2018."

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at > www.nar.realtor

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