A study released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University continues to paint a bleak housing market picture. However, although The State of the Nations's Housing 2011 report highlights a "Rocky Road to Recovery," it also points to a potential bright spot for the senior housing market.
The study points to many of the same concerns of other recent housing reports. Home vacancy rates remain high, the number of vacant homes held off the market continues to climb, new construction is at a virtual stand still, new home sales continue to set new lows and home prices continue to fall. As we are all aware, the housing market is struggling for some solid footing from which to begin a sustained recovery.
However, the study pointed to an interesting dynamic about the older population and their migration trends. The study highlighted that the baby boomer generation is projected to push the number of households over age 68 up by 8.7 million by 2020, a 35% increase from 2010. Although this is not a new statistic, the interesting aspect related to the housing projections of this population.
The study indicated that the majority of these seniors are likely to age in place. The fact that seniors tend not to relocate during retirement is welcomed good news to the reverse mortgage industry as it suggests growing opportunity to utilize equity over time to support the their financial needs.
In terms of the housing market, the study found that in the previous 10 years, nearly one-third of older households did move, most often to smaller homes. Assuming this percentage continues as the populations explodes, a growing number of seniors will be changing homes in the growing decade.
Could this trend point to growth in the industry through the HECM for Purchase program finally gaining momentum? It certainly appears that there is a market there that, even in the case of downsizing, seniors could use the program to limit the amount of assets required to be tied up into the home and provide additional resources to fund retirement needs.