Reality Check: COVID Deaths Will Lead To Increase In Housing Inventory


It may be a harsh reality to face, but the data is clear: There will be more houses on the market in 2022 because of the number of people who have died due to COVID-19 and its variants.

This sobering fact was highlighted during the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Miami, Fla., last week.

As of Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 793,937 COVID deaths of Americans. More of those deaths have occurred since the first vaccines became available than before. Approximately 77% of people over the age of five have had at least one vaccination, according to their website.

Community transmission is high in many parts of the country with Christmas less than two weeks away.

At the NAREE conference, Lawrence Yun spoke about the increased housing inventory that will result from COVID deaths. He is the Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors.

“I do anticipate higher inventory in 2022,” Yun said at the conference. He cited homebuilders’ intentions to build more houses in 2022, the winding down of home forbearance programs, and COVID-related deaths, according to a Tweet by NAR Media Relations.

Yun also said, “We are only in the first inning of what work-from-home really means.”

Enterprise Reporter Michelle Jarboe, who works for Crain’s Cleveland and won a NAREE award for a story on a legal battle over tax foreclosures involving vacant and abandoned properties, picked up on Yun’s statements and included them in a tweet.

In a conversation with The Mortgage Note, Yun acknowledged his statement about deaths and housing could be viewed as cold or even morbid, but he stood by his conclusion.

Yun said many of the people who die from COVID leave behind a spouse who now may need to downsize, or children who may have an estate on their hands unexpectedly.

Yun said he does not want to be callous, but death leads to home sales even in “normal” years.

“COVID has taken a terrible, tragic toll in America in terms of deaths,” Yun said.

The National Association of Realtors is holding a virtual Economic and Real Estate Summit on Wednesday that will provide a year-end review of 2021 and outlook on the real estate market and economy, according to their website.