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Why Is Morale Declining in Homebuying Market?

The National Association of Realtors has released the findings for their Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey for the first quarter of 2018. According to the survey, consumers have indicated that, while a growing number of households feel more confident about the economy and their financial situations, these positive feelings are not translating into the homebuying market.

While the majority of consumers surveyed do believe that now is a good time to buy a home, the positive response is down four percent from the previous quarter, coming to 68 percent. Renter optimism has also diminished, coming to 55 percent this quarter, a five percent decrease from Q4 2017. Those with the highest levels of optimism are homeowners and older respondents, as well as those living in the more affordable Midwest and South regions.

“There’s no question that a majority of homeowners have amassed considerable equity gains since the downturn,” said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR. “Home prices have grown a cumulative 48 percent since 2011 and are up 5.9 percent through the first two months of this year. Supply conditions would improve measurably, and ultimately lead to more sales, if a growing number of homeowners finally decide that this spring is the time to list their home for sale.”

Responses from non-homeowners indicated that the top three financial burdens preventing them from saving for a downpayment were limited income (47 percent), student loan debt (30 percent), and rising rents (28 percent). Only 14 percent of respondents indicated that nothing was holding them back from saving for a downpayment.

The survey also polled non-homeowners about the potential reasons they would find it difficult to apply for a mortgage. The top three responses listed were income uncertainty (45 percent), a low credit score (34 percent), and too much debt (26 percent). Twenty-nine percent responded that they lacked the financial knowledge or did not know the first step needed for qualification.  

Conversely, the share of homeowners who believe now is a good time to sell their homes has risen one percent from the last quarter, with 77 percent responding affirmatively, the overall highest share since the inception of the HOME survey in December 2015.

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