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Early retirees hold keys for market shift

It ain’t no fun if the sellers can’t have none. Some 98% of top agents across the country agree that it continues to be a seller’s market — but we’re not sure how much fun it’s been.

That’s up from 79% since when the pandemic housing boom began in summer 2020 — but new findings show the tides are turning as homebuyer priorities shift and sellers look to capitalize on the current high prices in the market, according to a Homelight survey of 1,115 real estate agents.  

Today, 30-year fixed mortgage rates average out to 2.62-2.63%, according to Zillow. Top agents said 4% mortgage rates could influence the market to open up for buyers. This can free some inventory. With a chance of inventory opening up, Gen Zers and younger millennials like the idea of having a house that’s ideal for their needs. 

Colorado real estate agent Lindsay Mann-Emmerson said the pandemic has changed what younger generations prioritize. Gen Zers want homes that are close to dining and shopping hotbeds and have home-office space. Millennials prioritize being in proximity to good school districts.  

“This is really the first time since the 1950s that homebuyers have started thinking about homes in a truly different way,” Mann-Emerson said. “I believe the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns changed the housing market, the way we view housing, the needs we have and what home means to people forever.” 

Sellers understand buyers are intrigued by low mortgage rates. At the same time, sellers have a fear of missing out, especially retirees. Sellers want to list before mortgage rates rise to a potential 5%. According to the Homelight report, 52% of agents agree mortgage interest rates will need to strike 4-4.5% for buyer demand to slow. 

In a New York Times article, in the 15 months since the pandemic began, about 2.5 million Americans have retired. A PEW research article mentioned that since February 2020, retired baby boomers have increased by about 1.1 million. Despite that, many aren’t moving. 

Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) are not downsizing their homes — even boomers who are empty nesters and have an average of two bedrooms, according to Trulia

In a study of 1,053 people ages 50 and up, 13.2% of people in their 50s and 60s had moved or were planning to move to a new place, compared to only 3.6% of people in their 70s.

More than 1 in 10 people over 50 moved or plan to move to a new location due to the pandemic. Lower cost of living was the No. 1 reason why people moved to a new location according to the Stannah study. 

More than half of agents (61%) acknowledge that early retirees are influenced by the current high prices. If those early retirees can sell now, it could provide a cash boost. 

High prices could encourage sellers to list. 48% of agents surveyed said the thought of losing a major deal could open up more listings this year. 

The inventory stasis could expire soon. Likely, older homeowners are waiting for the right time to strike.