Negative population growth in much of the developed world through 2050 means that residential real estate prices will have a long term negative trend.
For example, the Population Research Bureau predicts (pdf) that Japan’s population, now around 127 million, will shrink to roughly 95 million by 2050. This is due to the aged population with below replacement fertility. Assuming a household size of 3 persons, this would amount to a reduction in housing unit requirements of roughly 10 million units, or about 250,000 units per year between now and 2050.
Other countries with significant population loss to 2050 forecast by the PRB include:
Germany – decline from 82 million residents to 72 million residents
Russia – decline from 142 million residents to 127 million residents
Ukraine – decline from 46 million residents to 35 million residents
Poland – decline from 38 million residents to 32 million residents
Many other countries in East Asia and Europe are forecast to have roughly zero population growth during this time frame. This suggests that in these areas real estate will be at best a non-factor in GDP growth.