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follow BayAreaObserver 2017 Jul 21, 11:58am
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In most markets, the seller, or supplier, makes their decision about adding supply to the market independent of the buyer, or source of demand, and their decision to buy. In the housing market, the seller and the buyer are, in many cases, actually the same economic actor. In order to buy a new home, you have to sell the home you already own.
So, in a market with rising prices and strong demand, whatâ€™s preventing existing homeowners from putting their homes on the market?
â€œExisting homeowners are increasingly financially imprisoned in their own home by their historically low mortgage rate. It makes choosing a kitchen renovation seem more appealing than moving.â€
Itâ€™s widely expected that mortgage rates will rise further. This is more important than we may even realize because the housing market has not experienced a rising rate environment in almost three decades! No longer is there a financial incentive to refinance for most homeowners, and thereâ€™s more to consider when moving. Why move when it will cost more each month to borrow the same amount from the bank? A homeowner can re-extend the mortgage term another 30 years to increase the amount one can borrow at the higher rate, but the mortgage has to be paid off at some point. Hopefully before or soon after retirement. Existing homeowners are increasingly financially imprisoned in their own home by their historically low mortgage rate. It makes choosing a kitchen renovation seem more appealing than moving.â€
There is one more possibility caused by the fact that the existing-home owner is both seller and buyer. In todayâ€™s market, sellers face a prisonerâ€™s dilemma, a situation in which individuals donâ€™t cooperate with each other, even though it is seemingly in their best interest to do so.
Consider two existing homeowners. They both want to buy a new house and move, but are unable to communicate with each other. If they both choose to sell, they both benefit because they increase the inventory of homes available, and collectively alleviate the supply shortage.
As to if there is or isn't a "housing shortage" that is for another thread. You can check out Logan's website where he debunks that notion or you can stay with the shortage theory.