One one hand, some three-quarters of households surveyed by the National Association of Realtors still believe now is a good time to buy a home. On the other, there is a considerable gap in morale between home owners and renters. The survey also found that roughly half of young adults with student debt are uncomfortable about taking on a mortgage.
This according to the latest installment of the National Association of Realtors® Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey, the findings of which, the Realtors said, came "despite lackluster economic growth and stark home-price appreciation in several parts of the country in recent months." The survey was released Wednesday morning.
Through the first half of the year, NAR’s survey found that the share of homeowners and renters who believe now is a good time to buy a home is mostly holding steady, with 80% of homeowners (82% in March) and 62% of renters (unchanged from last quarter) saying it’s a good time to buy. However, the share of renters who think so is down from 68% in December 2015, and those under 35 were the least confident that now is a good time to buy.
“Existing-home prices surpassed their all-time peak this spring and have climbed on average over 5% nationally through the first five months of the year--and even faster in areas with severe supply shortages,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Most homeowners appear to realize that if they’re ready to sell, they’ll likely find a buyer rather quickly and be able to use the sizeable equity they’ve accumulated in recent years towards their next home purchase. Meanwhile, renters interested in buying continue to face minimal choices, strong competition and home prices growing faster than their incomes.”
Yun continued, “Given these affordability pressures, it’s no surprise respondents earning over $100,000 and those living in the Midwest – the most affordable region of the country – are the most optimistic about buying right now.”
According to the survey, roughly two-thirds of non-homeowners and half of respondents under 35 with student debt said they aren’t comfortable also having a mortgage. Furthermore, of those with student debt, non-homeowners and younger adults were less likely to believe they’d be able to qualify for a mortgage if they applied.
“It’s becoming very evident from this survey and our research released last month that the financial and emotional impact of repaying student debt is contributing to a delay in purchasing a home for many would-be buyers,” said Yun. “At a time of quickly rising rents, mortgage rates at all-time lows and increasing housing wealth, a lot of young adults in their prime buying years are struggling to enter the market and are ultimately missing out on the stability and wealth accumulation that owning a home can provide.”
Still, not quite half the population believes the economy is improving, (49%), which is mostly unchanged since the inaugural HOME survey in December 2015. Renters, respondents living in urban areas, and those in the West were the most optimistic. On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of those living in rural areas don’t believe the economy is improving.
Reflecting somewhat lessening confidence that respondents’ financial situation will be better in six months, the HOME survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index of all households slightly decreased (to 57.7 in June) since March (58.1), but is unchanged from June 2015.
More current homeowners (61%) believe it is a good time to sell compared to the first quarter of this year (56%). Respondents in the West were once again the most likely to think now is a good time to sell, while also being the least likely to think now is a good time to buy.
“More homeowners acknowledging this pent-up demand may perhaps mean we begin to see more supply come online in the near future,” adds Yun.
When asked about their outlook for home prices in their community in the next six months, almost all believe that prices will stay the same or rise (93%), which is consistent with last quarter (91%). Respondents from the West, those living in urban areas and renters are most likely to believe prices will go up in their communities.
The survey was conducted by an established survey research firm, TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence between April and late June. Each month approximately 900 qualified households responded to the survey. The data was compiled for this report and a total of 2,714 household responses are represented.