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Delaying the American Dream

The share of homeowners who view homeownership as part of the American Dream is quite high at about 90 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) most recent analysis.

However, among non-homeowners, 75 percent view homeownership as part of the American Dream. So what is preventing these Americans from making their dream a reality?

According to NAR, it’s affordability.

“The lack of affordable and moderately priced homes has forced non-homeowners to delay achieving that part of the American Dream,” said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR with Monday’s release of the Aspiring Home Buyers Profile.

“However,” he added, “as the survey confirms, significant lifestyle changes like marriage or starting a family often spur non-owners to pursue homeownership.”

In the fourth quarter of 2018, 43 percent of non-owners cited affordability as their primary reason for not owning a home, down from 49 percent in the third quarter but still ranking as the No. 1 reason for not owning a home.

Thirty-three percent of non-owners cited “current life circumstances” as their reason for foregoing ownership for the time being, and 16 percent said they would wait to purchase a home because they need “the flexibility of renting” right now, according to NAR.

The share of non-homeowners who feel now is a good time to buy a home waned over the year, starting at 51 percent in the first quarter and ending the year at 47 percent in the fourth quarter.

Non-owners who said now is a good time to purchase a home spanned all age, income, and city size brackets, except in the West where non-owners were slightly more pessimistic, NAR pointed out.

Meanwhile, the share of homeowners who feel now is a good time to purchase a home hovered between 69 and 73 percent in 2018, ending the year at 72 percent.

“While home sales were slightly down in 2018, there is still a sizable pent-up housing demand,” Yun pointed out. “Economic growth, interest rates, and the supply of moderately-priced homes will dictate how well the real estate industry will do this year.”

NAR also questioned survey respondents about opening their homes to their adult children or other adults and how that has impacted their outlook on their homes. Eleven percent of homeowners had an adult move into their home in the past year, while five percent of non-owners reported the same. Of those, 44 percent said that adult plans to stay for more than a year or permanently.

Twelve percent of those who had an adult move into their home have considered moving or did move because they feel their housing is now “inadequate,” according to NAR’s survey.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.
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