The Mystery Of The Missing Housing Inventory For Sale (Elderly Americans Selling Less)

The inventory of existing homes for sale in the US is extremely low. The lack of available inventory to buy is helping drive home prices through the roof.

Available inventory for purchase peaked back in the 2007-2008 period during the dreaded housing bubble in the US. But inventory for sale has declined ever since. Why?

I think it has something to do with the aging of the US population. Look at this chart of Existing Home Sales Inventory against the growth 65+ years old.

Perhaps households 65+ are resisting moving to states like Florida and Arizona as they had in the past, leaving them stationary in their dwelling.

Another reason for the bewildering lack of inventory is the growth of the HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) that allows elderly households to drain the equity in their home rather than have to sell to utilize it. But HECMs have not taken-off sufficiently to explain the mystery of the missing inventory.

So we know that housing inventory is very low and we know that the number of Americans 65 and over is increasing. But we do not know the reason for the decline in inventory.

Jack Guttentag has an excellent write-up in Forbes on the HECM. Particularly with rapidly growing home prices and equity.