The sluggish housing market is currently at its slowest pace since the Great Recession. However, this doesn't mean that no one is buying homes.

According to the National Association of Realtors, an estimated 4.15 million previously-owned homes will be sold in 2023. This figure represents the lowest pace of sales since 2008.

So, what's driving people to buy these homes? Robert Reffkin, founder and CEO of Compass, a real-estate company, believes it's all about the five D's.

In an appearance on CNBC, Reffkin explained, "There's a lot of pent-up demand. You have the five D's keeping the market moving."

These five D's refer to crucial life events - diapers, diplomas, diamonds, divorce, and death. They mark phases in a home buyer's life when they need to either move to a larger home as their family expands or downsize to a smaller house as their household contracts.

However, outside of these specific circumstances, most potential home buyers are currently on pause in this housing market due to the high cost of homes and mortgage rates.

Reffkin emphasized, "All the people that want to move are really on pause... it's the people that want to move, not those that have to move."

The soaring unaffordability of the housing market has spooked many aspiring homeowners. Affordability is now at a 39-year low, while the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stands at a 23-year high. Home prices continue to climb.

According to a recent survey, a record-high 85% of consumers believe it's a "bad time" to buy a home.

To bring the housing market back to more affordable levels, one of three factors must occur. According to ICE's Andy Walden, either the 30-year mortgage rate needs to fall by 4.4 percentage points, the median household income needs to rise by 62%, or home prices need to fall by 38%.

Currently, people are eagerly waiting on the sidelines for a significant change. Demand is steadily "building up month over month," as Reffkin noted.

Ultimately, while the housing market faces significant challenges, the ever-present five D's and the potential for change offer hope for a brighter future.

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