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The Next Housing Bubble



올해 초 조사된 바에 따르면 올해 서울 아파트 평균 매매가격이 7억 4988만 원을 기록했다고 한다. 소위 말하는 '금수저'를 물고 태어난 케이스가 아니라면 '내 집'을 가진다는 것은 대단히 어렵거나 평생 불가능 할 수도 있다. 보통 직장인의 임금으로는 거의 20년을 쓰지 않고 저축해야 서울에서 '평균'인 집을 살 수 있다. 아, 물론 20년 뒤에 집값이 어떨지는 아무도 모를 일이지만 말이다. 일부 경제학자들은 향후 10~20년이면 현재 베이비붐 세대들이 노인이 되고, 그들이 재산을 매각하기 시작하게 된다면 젊은 세대들에게도 내 집 장만의 장벽이 낮아질 것이라 전망하기도 하지만, 이 역시 전망일 뿐이다.

Young people these days are having a hard time purchasing a house. Either it is too expensive, or they resigned to the fact that it’s just impossible to get a house. British Prime Minister Theresa May describes solving the housing scarcity as “the biggest domestic policy of our generation.” A 27-year-old today is half as likely to own a house as a same-age counterpart 15 years ago.

But all is not yet lost. Economists say that millennials still have a shot at buying a house some decade or two from now. The idea is this: baby boomers who were born sometime between the early ’40s to the ’60s will start selling up properties, possibly downsizing, moving to elderly homes, or, well, going to the skies. Because of this, supply will rise, which will also depress prices and make houses more affordable for people. Back-of-the-envelope calculations show that if all of England’s owner-occupier baby boomers downsize from a house with three bedrooms to two, they will free up around 2.5% of the current housing stock. Also, empirical work shows that a 1% rise in the supply leads to a 2% decrease in prices and rents.

However, the problem is that unlike the US, downsizing is not as widespread in Britain. One estimate shows that only 40% of 50-year-old homeowners will move house before they die. Why is this so? One research provides convincing evidence that geography and climate are two crucial details. Britain does not have sunny places like Florida, where American oldsters usually move to.

Moreover, stamp duty, tax on homebuyers, and generally, the British government’s policy discourages downsizing. Along with the rise in housing prices in the past decade, the average amount of stamp duty per house purchase has risen by half. So, even if there are available homes for sale, chances are millennials still won’t purchase because of the extra expenses that come along with it.

How about moving to an older people’s home? Well, that option can also be unlikely since only 3% 65-year-old and over Britons are in residential care, compared to 5% in the US. Britain does not have enough retirement housing, with more than half of the existing ones built or last refurbished over 30 years ago. Additionally, their social-care system is designed in such a way that British pensioners don’t have to sell their houses to pay for treatment.

The baby boomer generation has a typical lifespan of around 87 years, so 2034 will be “Peak Death,” which, would be an unfortunate year for many. For others, however, that year would open opportunities for house-hunters who could use a new home or at least nudge the price a little.