When it comes to Americans' optimism about buying homes, Q2's numbers might as well be cribbed from the National Association of Realtors ' Q1 report. NAR's second quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey  found that 68 percent of people think it's a good time to buy—statistically, pretty much the same as in the first quarter.
That optimism has remained steady among homeowners in particular. As with last quarter, 39 percent strongly agree that now is a good time to buy, while 29 percent moderately agree. Among renters, however, those positive feelings dropped from 55 to 49 percent in Q2. Optimism is highest among older buyers (65 or over) and those living in the South and Midwest regions (73 and 71 percent, respectively).
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said affordability and low inventory are eroding buyer confidence.
“Inventory remains the driving force in real estate, affecting everything for rising prices to household formation. Improving supply conditions is critical to improving buyer optimism and helping to remove some of the barriers holding back potential first-time buyers,” Yun said.
Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they believe that home prices have gone up in their area within the last 12 months. That's up from 63 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, 55 percent also believe that home prices will keep going up in their communities through year's end. That's about where it was last quarter, too.
Those numbers also largely mirror optimism about the economy in general. According to the report, almost 60 percent said the economy will stay strong. Most of the optimists are in rural areas, where 63 percent said the economy is improving.
The largest change in perception from Q1 regarded mortgages. Forty-six percent of those surveyed said they do not believe it would be difficult to obtain a mortgage. While still less than half, that number is up from 36 percent last quarter.
“This is most likely a reflection of the current positive outlook on the direction of the economy,” Yun said. “Healthy job creation and faster wage growth mean that homeownership is viewed as a more attainable goal than it was a year ago.”
But optimism for several years ahead was a little less bouncy. Asked if homeownership will be easier or harder to attain for future generations, 73 percent said it will be harder for future generations to purchase a home, compared to 11 percent who said it will be easier.
On the other side of the table, 75 percent believe that now is a good time to sell. Twenty-nine percent overall said that now is not a good time to sell a home. Among homeowners, that number was 19 percent.
“Hopefully, this strong seller optimism will lead to an increase in inventory later on in the year,” said Yun.