Many consumers are confident that the economy has at least stabilized and more than 70% agree that now is a good time to buy a home, but what they think and what they do are two different things, public opinion researchers told a group at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference on June 17.

About 11% of people polled by Ipsos Real Estate Research Practice in June said they are in the market for a new home within the next two years. But converting those to lookers into buyers is going to require convincing these would-be homeowners that they are getting a good deal, pollsters Carmen Holley and Hanson Lok told the audience.

Roughly 52% said they would be willing to buy if they find a great house in their price range. Yet many said current home prices are still too high. Part of the reason may be their own finances: 73% said their budget is less than $300,000.

The researchers said that the prime potential buyers for builders right now are at the opposite ends of the age spectrum, with the echo boomers, who are roughly 18 to 29 years old, and the baby boomers looking for retirement options.

But the groups prefer to live in different places. The younger audiences want urban homes, but they’re willing to settle for something further flung if price is much lower. However, being close to work is preferred. While they will settle for smaller homes, they do want houses with enough room to start a family.

Older buyers are looking for suburbs and rural areas and are seeking smaller homes because they plan to downsize.

Almost everybody says low maintenance is important. Green construction also showed some traction in this survey, with 45% saying they are willing to pay more because of potential cost savings down the road and because green homes are perceived as being healthier.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor at BIG BUILDER and BUILDER magazines.

What You Need to Know to Sell Homes Right Now

  • Consumer confidence is improving but still people are conservative. Job security is an important element of reviving the buying market.

  • Builder reputation is especially important.

  • Specifically tailor your product to your buyer, determining your target audience has never been more important.

  • Consumers are choosing relevance over abundance, preferring to pay for the features they want and no more.

  • There’s a trend toward spending more money on home entertainment such as video games. And the video fun is including the entire household, including women.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.