Most Buyers Actively Searching for a Home Have Been Looking for 3+ Months


The Housing Trends Report (HTR) is a 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, but are not seasonally adjusted due to the short time horizon of the series, and therefore caution is advised when interpreting trends or comparing time periods.  This is the fourth (and last) of a series of posts highlighting results for the second quarter of 2018.  See previous posts on plans to buy, housing availability, and housing affordability.

As published earlier, 14% of adults responding to our poll in the second quarter of 2018 are planning to purchase 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:  49% said they were already actively engaged in the search process, a share that was somewhat higher than in Qtr1’18 (42%) but still lower than in Qtr4’17 (67%).

More granular second quarter 2018 results show that half or nearly half of all prospective buyers planning a home purchase within the next year are already actively looking for a home, regardless of what generation they belong to (51% of Millennials, 49% or Gen X’ers, and 46% of Boomers).

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 who are already 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 in each of the three quarters data are available for:

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 second quarter of 2018 was that they can’t find a home with the features they want (45%), followed closely by not being able to find a home at a price they can afford (43%).

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?  55% will continue looking for the ‘right’ home in the same preferred location; 34% might expand the search area; 24% might accept a smaller/older home; 19% might buy a more expensive home.

One option that is not in the cards for most of them: giving up.  Only 16% say that is likely their next step, suggesting 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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1 reply

  1. It’s interesting to know that a lot of buyers are looking for homes for months. I understand that it’s hard to find a house that has the features we want. We’re actually going to start house hunting soon, so I think we should shorten our needs list and add some to the want list.

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