A majority of Americans agree “the American dream of owning a home is dead” because of affordability issues, according to “The State of Real Estate” survey released by The Harris Poll Thought Leadership Practice. The survey found a majority of respondents dream of owning a home of their own but feel costs are making homeownership unattainable.
Almost six in 10 respondents said they are worried they will never be able to own a home, and 61% reported they feel priced out of the current real estate market. The feeling of being priced out is stronger among millennials, with 69% of respondents in the cohort reporting the sentiment, according to The Harris Poll.
In addition to feeling homeownership is unattainable due to cost, many respondents also reported they feel they can’t afford to stay in their current living situations. More than six in 10 homeowners and renters said their housing costs have increased since the pandemic, with 28% saying costs have increased tremendously. Approximately 47% of respondents said their current area “has become so unaffordable it’s barely livable,” according to The Harris Poll.
“People’s sense of safety has been shattered by the pandemic and what we call the stacked crisis—pandemic, war, inflation, climate disasters, and more,” says Libby Rodney, chief strategy officer and futurist at The Harris Poll. “Crucial to reestablishing our sense of safety is housing. As humans, we are wired to nest and ground ourselves during times of uncertainty and upheaval. This data shows that not only do they feel priced out of the market, but areas that people live, especially millennials, are so expensive that they barely feel livable.”
Rodney says “The State of Real Estate” returned results that seem contradictory: One in five people have moved to a new home since the start of the pandemic. Approximately 19% of Gen Z individuals and 13% of millennials were able to buy their first homes during the pandemic, largely due to the sharp decline in mortgage rates.
However, many of the respondents who moved during the pandemic expressed buyer’s regret in the survey. Almost six in 10 respondents said their move was unplanned, and 44% said they wish they hadn’t moved and purchased a home.
While 39% of Americans plan to move to a new home within three years, 71% of respondents are holding off on moving currently because of concerns over economic uncertainty, interest rates, inflation, and a potential recession.
When Americans do move, they likely are to move from cities and urban centers, according to The Harris Poll. Three-quarters of respondents said working remotely has expanded their options for relocation. As a result, more people are likely to consider the suburbs (64%) and rural areas (57%) than big cities (44%) as moving destinations, according to the survey. More than half of Gen Z and millennial respondents would move to suburbs and rural areas, compared with 45% of Gen X respondents and a third of baby boomer respondents.
Respondents cited affordable housing, lower costs of living , safety, and increased living space as the primary reasons they would consider moving to the suburbs or rural areas instead of cities.
The survey found many Americans are considering living with roommates or renting out their current homes temporarily as workarounds to combat affordability issues in the short term.
“One trend we are watching closely after looking through this data is how migration patterns in the U.S. will continue to play out as people prioritize suburban and rural living over cities,” Rodney says. “Americans might be questioning if the cost of living in a city is worth it, especially when many have figured out how to create opportunities and success for themselves in the last two-and-a-half years virtually.”
The “State of Real Estate” survey generated responses from a representative sample of 1,980 U.S. residents. The respondents include 1,296 homeowners and 615 renters, as well as 194 Gen Z individuals (ages 18-24), 613 millennials (ages 25-40), 485 Gen X individuals (ages 41-56), and 688 baby boomers (ages 57 and older).