Consumers still appear to be unaware of low-down-payment mortgage options when purchasing a home, according to the National Association of Realtors' new Homeownership Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey for the third quarter of 2016. The HOME survey is a quarterly study on consumers' housing expectations and preferences, as well as their gauge of how much of a down payment they need to purchase a home. Data were compiled from over 2,700 household survey responses for this report.
Age plays a critical role shaping consumers' perceptions of down payment options. About 34% of those 34 years-old or younger believe they need to put more than 20% down, compared to only 23% of those aged 45 to 54, who have presumably accomplished wealth accumulation at the zenith of their career. In contrast, older people aged 65 or over showed least confidence in financing, as nearly half of them believe they should put more than 20% down. Meanwhile, all respondents appear to have limited knowledge of low-down-payment mortgage options, as only 13% of them believe they need 5% or less for a down payment.
When it comes to a full understanding of mortgage options, previous home-owning experience doesn't seem to matter. Approximately 13% of respondents who are current home owners believe they could pay no more than 5% for a down payment, the same as renters, while only 7% of those who live with others believe so. On the other hand, 30% of homeowners believe they'd need to put down more than 20% to buy a home, compared to 36% of renters, and 48% of people living with others.
Respondent awareness of low-down-payment mortgage options was minimal across all income and education brackets, too, as the majority of respondents still consider a down payment higher than 15% is a must. When asked of their views on ability to qualify a for a mortgage with more than 15% down, 62% of respondents said it was very difficult, while 67% said it was somewhat difficult.
As opposed to the high expectations of large down payments, the market has seen a shrinking home buying desire. In the third quarter of 2016, only 71% of respondents said it's a good time to buy a home, down from the 74% in Q2 and 75% in Q1.
“It’s possible some of the hesitation about buying right now among young adults is from them not realizing there are mortgage financing options available that do not require 20% down payment, which would be north of $100,000 in some expensive areas in the country,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun commented in a statement.
“In fact, most first-time buyers put down much less. In the 35 year history of NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – the longest-running survey series of national housing data – the average median down payment has been 5% for first-time buyers,” added Yun.
Younger consumers, especially millennials, are more likely to receive help on down payments, another portion of the survey finds. About one third (34%) of consumers aged 34 and under said they received down payment assistance from parents or relatives, compared to 19% of those aged 35 to 44, 16% of those aged 45 to 54, and 18% of those aged 55 to 64. Retirees over 65 are the least helped group, with just 14% having received family support.
On the other hand, people aged 65 and over are found to be most generous giving financial support to home-buying children or relatives. When asked if they've ever helped others with down payment, as high as 33% of respondents 65 years old and over said yes, compared to 23% of those aged 55 to 64, 13% of those aged 45 to 54, and 10% of those aged 35 to 44. Millennials, still grappling with student loans and entry-level, lower-paid jobs, are giving out least help to others, with only 6% said yes to this question.
This quarter's HOME survey is conducted through random digit dials to a sample of U.S. households between July to early September 2016 by survey research firm TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. Each month, approximately 900 qualified households responded to the survey.
Read the full survey on NAR.