House Search Takes Many Months, But Buyers Do Not Intend to Give Up


The Housing Trends Report (HTR) is a new research product created by NAHB’s Economics team to track prospective home buyers’ perceptions about the availability and affordability of homes for-sale in their markets.  Results are based on national polls conducted by Morning Consult.  This is the fourth (and last) of a series of posts highlighting results for the first quarter of 2018.  See previous posts on plans to buy, housing availability, and housing affordability.

As published earlier, 17% of adults responding to our poll in the first quarter of 2018 reported to be planning the purchase of a home in the next 12 months.  A follow-up question asked that group if they were already actively trying to find a house or still just in the planning stage:  42% said their house search was in full throttle, down from the 67% of prospective buyers who said to be actively searching in the last quarter of 2017.

A breakdown of first quarter 2018 results by generation shows that, of the 19% of Millennials who said to be planning a home purchase within the next year, about half (49%) are already actively engaged in the search for a home, making them the most likely generation to be currently involved in trying to find a house (and not just planning it).

Are You Already Actively Looking for a Home to Buy?
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers)

Share Already Actively Looking for a Home to Buy By Generation
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers)

The poll also revealed that prospective buyers actively looking for a home are spending considerable amounts of time house hunting. In fact, more than half have been trying to find the right home for three months or longer: 51% in the first quarter of 2018 and 62% in the last quarter of 2017.

Share Looking for a Home for 3 Months or Longer
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers Already Looking for a Home)

Why is it taking this long? The number one reason home buyers gave in the first quarter of 2018 was that they can’t find a home they can afford (53%). That share is up from 42% in the last quarter of 2017.

And finally, a critical question for all involved in the housing industry: what are these veteran house hunters, who have already actively looked for at least three months, going to do if their dream house remains elusive in the months ahead?  60% will continue looking for the right home in the same preferred location; 43% might expand the search area; 24% might accept a smaller/older home; 11% might buy a more expensive home.

One option that is not in the cards for most of them: giving up.  Only 13% say that is likely to be their next step, which suggests that despite the difficulties and delays, most prospective buyers will press ahead undeterred in their homeownership goal.

Next Steps if Still Unable to Find Home in Months Ahead
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers Who Have Been Looking for 3+ Months)

A description of the poll’s methodology and sample characteristics can be found here.

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