Photo: Robert Clark

US housing inventory hit an all-time low in December 2017, and existing homeowners could be part of the reason why.

Many homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes longer and keeping their homes off the market is exacerbating an already constrained level of inventory, according to the results of a homeowner survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Diminished supply and lackluster home sales thus far in 2018 have many experts now predicting a weaker than expected spring homebuying season.

NAHB recently polled existing homeowners who have resided in their current home for 10 years or more on why they have remained in their home.

The chief reason existing homeowners are reluctant to move is simply that they like their home. Some 70 percent of respondents said they were so comfortable in their home that they have not wanted to move in over 10 years.

The expense of moving has kept 21 percent of existing homeowners in their home. Respondents were unwilling to go through the hassle and stress of searching for a new home, and enduring the subsequent costs associated with relocating.

Lastly, inventory — or lack thereof — was keeping 10 percent of existing homeowners in their current homes. Homeowners said the lack of available and affordable for sale homes in their price range have kept them from selling.

Among the least important reasons respondents cited for staying put in their homes was not wanting to give up their current low mortgage interest rate. This is at odds with how many real estate experts have characterized existing homeowners and their inadvertent role in the national inventory crisis.

“This suggests that a desire to keep a low mortgage rate is far from being the primary culprit for the reduced mobility seen in recent years, as is sometimes attributed,” says NAHB in the digital release.

Few existing homeowners said that new job opportunities that required moving to more expensive areas and the fact that their current home is underwater — that is, the homeowner owes more on the home than the home is valued at — were significant factors in their decision making.

The survey was done as part of a larger series of homeowner and housing industry surveys conducted by NAHB and whose results were revealed at the recent 2018 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, FL.

Click here to read the entire release.

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