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Monday, August 01, 2011

Housing: The Missing Move-up Buyer

by Calculated Risk on 8/01/2011 09:06:00 AM

From Alejandro Lazo at the LA Times: Homeowners who want to trade up are stuck waiting

Although there is no way to precisely to track move-up buyers, such shoppers often are looking in the $300,000-to-$800,000 price range, according to San Diego real estate research firm DataQuick.

Home sales fell the most in that category in June, dropping 25.5% from June 2010, mainly because buyer tax credits last year sparked so many first-time purchases, DataQuick said. All those first-time purchases fueled move-up transactions.

By comparison, sales of homes priced below $200,000 fell 11.4% from June 2010, and sales of homes priced at more than $800,000 dropped 17.6%.

Before the bust, moving up was so common that chains of buyers and sellers would develop, with each deal dependent on the previous one in the chain. Move-up buyers are a key part of a more robust market, as all that trading up fuels price gains and helps homeowners to build equity.

"It is critical," said Ed Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. "The way to think about is a chain of trades that normally occurs, and if that chain is broken at any point, or it doesn't begin because you don't have enough entry-level buyers, then the whole dynamic of the marketplace is affected and the level of resales is going to be very small."
Home Sales One and Done Talk about "chain reaction". Here is a graphic I put together in early 2007 to talk about how the move-up buyer would disappear.

Click on graphis for larger image in new window.

An excerpt from a post in 2009:
[T]hese sales are "one and done" with no move up buyer.

Where are the move up buyers going to come from?

There is no "chain reaction" in the housing market - over half the sales are to first time buyers, and frequently the sellers are banks.

I hear this from real estate agents all the time: the agents (low end) are plenty busy with REOs and short sales, but the deals are mostly "one and done".
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