MReport September 2022

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M REPORT | 55 O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST DATA Dr. Lisa Sturtevant had the following reaction to the PHSI report: "Home sales activity contin- ued to be lower than a year ago, with new data from the National Association of Realtors showing that July pending sales were down 19.9% year over year. Pending sales activity also fell 1.0% month over month, which is a more modest drop off than is typical between June and July." "While the year-over-year slowdown in buyer activity is sig- nificant, it seems hyperbole to be talking about a housing 'recession.' After two years of double-digit price growth, fierce competition among buyers, and offers some- times tens of thousands of dollars over list price, the housing market is resetting to a more sustainable state. In some markets—notably the West—the number of pending sales actually increased between June and July." "In July, mortgage rates were quite volatile in reaction to the strong jobs report, the drop in the inflation rate, and the Federal Reserve's rate hike. Even as mortgage rates dipped below 5% at the end of the month, buy- ers did not immediately rush back to the market. According to weekly data for the Mid-Atlantic, new purchase activity actually declined during the last week of July as rates were falling. With lower inflation and a strong labor market, the Federal Reserve likely will move less aggressively on rates at the September meeting and mortgage rates could stabilize, easing that rate volatility." "But prospective buyers are looking at more than just interest rates. Sellers are cutting prices and inventory is expanding, which is providing more options for buyers. The slower-than-average decline in pending sales activity between June and July suggests there may be more buyers in the market after Labor Day who are seeing stabilizing mortgage rates and sellers willing to cut prices and negotiate terms. Though the market will remain cooler than a year ago, expect pending sales to increase as we head into fall." Housing Problems Facing America's Seniors According to a new report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies, se- niors are already experiencing housing woes, and that number is only set to grow as more baby boomers come of age. I n a new Housing Perspectives blog post by Jennifer Molin- sky for the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University discusses the state of senior homeownership and four major problems that she feels need to be addressed soon as more and more boomers hit retirement. Molinsky, the Project Director of the Housing an Aging Society at JCHS, said that in just three years, the leading edge of the boomer generation will turn 80—by 2035, the Census Bureau projects that the population 80 and over will grow to nearly 24 million people, doubling what it was in 2016. And the fact that most of these older adults will live alone and on limited incomes, and many will have other factors such as health affecting their situation. The demand for affordable, ac- cessible housing, with access to in- home services and neighborhood support systems is set to soar in the coming years, but Molinsky says as of right now, the country is falling well short and is failing to meet even todays' demands. "First, there is enormous unmet need for affordable rental housing for older adults. Over 10 million households headed by someone 65 and over are cost burdened (paying more than a third of their income on housing); half of these pay more than 50%," Molinsky said. "Nearly three-quarters of renters earning under $15,000 per year are cost burdened. "To compensate, households often cut back on food and medical care, which can be detrimental for those with chronic health conditions," Molinsky continued. "Renters, often on fixed incomes, are particularly at risk of rising housing costs, and have a much smaller personal safety net: in 2019, the median older renter had a net wealth under $6,000." She went on to say that the latest available data revealed that there were 2.2 million older "very low-income" residents were living in "worst case housing" defined as having severe cost burdens, inadequate housing, or both. Thirty-six percent of income eligible seniors receive federal hous- ing assistance, expanding rental assistance can provide needed stabil- ity to these households and help address a growing homelessness crisis among older adults. "Affordability challenges are disproportionately felt by older people of color," Molinsky said. "Longstanding disparities in access to well-paying jobs and home- ownership opportunities have resulted in steep gaps in home- ownership with white households and greater financial insecurity, particularly for older Black and Hispanic households." The three other issues seniors are facing are: • Second, very little of the na- tion's housing stock offers even the most basic of accessibility features. Our analysis shows that less than 4% of homes offer a no- step entry, single-floor living, and wide enough doors and hallways to accommodate a wheelchair. Older people are also most likely to report difficulties entering, nav- igating, and using different parts of their homes. Support is needed for renters and property owners, as well as older homeowners, to make modifications and maintain housing in safe condition. • Third, the need for assistance and services that support older adults with activities of daily living and household tasks is escalating. Service-enriched af- fordable housing has been shown to support independence—and reduce healthcare costs—but need outstrips supply. Demand will grow for supports and services delivered to middle-income older adults who typically cannot af- ford assisted living settings. • Fourth, our research shows that many older adults live in places that lack livability features, such as neighborhood services, transportation alternatives, safe streets, and opportunities for engagement. These all contrib- ute to wellbeing and can even combat isolation and loneliness, both serious health issues in their own right. The author concluded by say- ing that these problems could be fixed with "comprehensive and coordinated policies" to build, preserve, and retrofit affordable housing and to connect seniors to groups and services in their area. "We can ensure that the oldest people in our nation have housing that provides a sound foundation for a good quality of life. But the time to act is now—the need is al- ready great and will only become more so."

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