Forbes Commentator on the 2018 Real Estate Forecast

In real estate news, the national real estate forecast for 2018-2019 is pointing to declining demand for new (not replacement) single family dwellings (houses, apartments, condos, and mobile homes). What are the driving forces behind the prediction for housing market deceleration?

Population Growth Slams on the Brakes
The biggest driver of housing demand growth, population growth is at its slowest in recent years. Last year, the U.S. population rose a meager 0.7% – the lowest gain on the books since 1937. Before the last recession, growth hovered around 1.2%, which isn’t as close to that 0.7% as you think: At that growth rate, housing built for new demand is far less than those needed to accommodate 1.2% population growth, a mere 58%. Forget old housing start averages. Look to the previous year’s builds and expect moderate additions.

Pent-Up Demand is Puttering Out
Non-rental housing of mostly single-family homes and some condos is currently at an average vacancy rate of 1.4-1.5%, compared to 2.9% during the recession. Supply is no tighter than normal, and though nationwide price increases are a bit on the high-side, a housing bubble is not imminent.

Employment and Wages are Out of Gas
With job growth relatively slow and wage inflation yet to accelerate, people are less able to live on their own, whether that means moving out of a parent’s basement or absconding from an ex-spouse. Though wage rates are expected to improve next year, the change is not expected soon enough to influence demand for housing.

Local Fluctuations Pose Obstacles
Though these forces drive new demand nationally, local fluctuations should be expected. Real estate news pointing to an excess of homes in Flint or Detroit will not help those searching for homes in Miami or NYC. Looking to the above demographics in your state or metropolitan area may reinforce or negate this ‘new build’ barometer.

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