In Tight Housing Market Baby Boomers Block Young Buyers

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Baby Boomer homeowners are cornering the housing market while potential young buyers are increasingly locked out. BBVA Compass research reveals recovering home values are boosting the equity of older homeowners, allowing them to buy new or second homes -- many times with cash -- while younger adults are faced with higher housing prices that exceed their buying power.

"For these prospective homebuyers, home prices have risen faster than their incomes during the recovery," BBVA Compass economist Jason Frederick says in his 2014 housing outlook. "Currently, home prices are now on the high end of a historical relationship between median home prices and median family income, and young families will need to see faster income growth and save additional money to make a larger down payment."

The report says that builders are more frequently targeting buyers age 55 and up due to their rising home equity and net worth, a factor that is likely contributing to the increase of all-cash transactions. About 42% of residential sales in December 2013 were all-cash purchases, up from just 18% in December 2012.

"Older homeowners are increasingly able to purchase a new residence with cash only after they sell their current home," Frederick says. "One factor holding back the growth of owner-occupied homes has been weak purchase demand from young families and households. Many early-career professionals are saddled with high student debt burdens that constrain their capacity to borrow."

But Frederick believes that late-career professionals and older homeowners will help sustain sales. Overall, he has a positive outlook for the housing market in 2014 as the economy slowly recovers; noting that home prices rose in all 50 states last year, delinquency rates have declined sharply, and the pace of foreclosures is slowing. His analysis projects:

  • There will be 700,000 to 800,000 new foreclosures in 2014 compared to 1 million in 2013; however, the market still needs to absorb 1.2 million foreclosed homes as declines have not kept pace with new filings.
  • Foreclosures will decline to a historically normal range of about 550,000 by 2015.
  • About 1.1 million new homes will be built this year, twice the pace of 2009 and 17% above 2013.
  • Home prices will increase 8.5% this year, compared to 11.5% in 2013
  • And the number of owner-occupied homes will increase this year for the first time in seven years.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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