Saturday, January 12, 2013

Econometric Advisors: About Real Estate :: Single Living to Fuel Housing Demand?

Econometric Advisors: About Real Estate :: Single Living to Fuel Housing Demand?

January 2, 2013
Gleb Nechayev, Senior Managing Economist, CBRE Econometric Advisors
With the U.S. economy improving, more single-person households are being formed. This trend will help to fuel demand for the nation’s housing, including apartments.
The rise in single-person households is part of a long-term global trend, driven by socio-economic and demographic changes. Between 1940 and 2010, single-person households increased from 7.7% of the national total, to 26.7%. This share is expected to continue climbing through this decade and beyond, with the number of single-person households—about 31 million in 2010—topping 36 million by 2020. As a result, singles will account for 35-40% of the growth in total housing demand over the period, which is more than they have historically.
Early on, single-person renter households grew much more quickly than renters as a whole—moving from 8.3% of renter households in 1940 to 36% in 1980. Compared with owners, however, the share of single renters has not seen much of an increase since then. A number of factors has contributed to this, including declines in young households during the 1980s, the homeownership boom of the late 1990s, and the Great Recession, which forced many single renters to “double up” with others or to move back with their families. Various surveys have shown that since 2007, single-person households have declined as a fraction of all renters, in contrast to the share of single-person households among owners, which has continued to trend up.
CBRE Econometric Advisors About Real EstateAs the U.S. economy continues to recover, the rate of single-person household formation is bound to accelerate, helping to boost overall housing demand. Which types of homes stand to benefit from this the most? To answer this, let’s take a closer look at where single-person households tend to live. As recently as 2011, more than half of them lived in single-family homes; the trend—among both owners and renters—has been slightly positive since 2000. Over 30% of single-person households live in apartments (structures with 5 or more units). Given the young age of most new single-person households currently being formed, these larger multi-housing properties are in a favorable position to capture much of the growth in rental demand—as long as their rents are competitive with those of single-family homes.
While growth among single-person households across the country is driven by local population growth, much of the variation in single-person households’ propensity to live in apartments over single-family homes stems from their relative affordability. In other words, single-person households compare local single-family home prices and rents with apartment prices and rents, just as families do, when deciding where to live. The greater the variety of housing choices in a particular area, the more relevant such comparisons become.
While single-person households have gained share of occupied units across all types of housing since 2000, they matter a lot more to apartments than they do to single-family. Singles account for about half of the demand for 5+ unit multi-housing and for almost 60% of the demand for high-rise living nationally. In contrast, singles capture just over 20% of the total single-family demand. Single-person households are particularly important to multi-housing demand in areas where their concentration is already high—including places such as the District of Columbia and Philadelphia. The housing choices of single-person households do vary by age, however, and a fairly large number of singles approaching and entering retirement own or rent single-family homes. Rapid growth among this group presents a major opportunity for multi-housing to expand its market share—especially in the suburbs.
CBRE Econometric Advisors About Real Estate
How many new single-person households will rent and how many will buy apartments in the coming years will depend on what type of jobs and incomes they will have and how easy it would be for them to obtain mortgages. From a valuation standpoint, in most parts of the country right now, buying apartments looks more attractive than renting them. Investors have certainly taken notice of this opportunity and condominium prices are now rising at a rate well above inflation; and their sale duration is back to levels last seen during the housing boom. More multi-housing construction intended for sale should follow.
The rise in single-person households is one of the long-term trends that greatly favors the multi-housing sector. The group is expected to expand by 4-5 million households this decade, and there is potential for most of this demand to be absorbed by rental apartments and townhouses or condominiums. For investors and developers, better understanding the income and age profile of these new households—along with their lifestyle choices—will be the key to taking some share of the demand from single-family homes, where most of the single-person households live today.
Written by cbremhgblog
January 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

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