Share of Buyers Expecting an Easier House Search Drops from 27% to 19% in a Year


In the last quarter of 2017, 27% of prospective home buyers expected the search for a home to get easier in the months ahead. Fast forward a year to the final quarter of 2018, and that share falls to 19%.  Logically, if fewer buyers think house hunting is getting easier, then a growing share must feel it is getting harder or at least not improving.  This is exactly what happened between the final quarters of 2017 and 2018: the 65% of buyers for whom the home search was getting harder/not improving rose to 72%.

Looking at the data by generations confirms that the difficulties of finding a home run across age groups, as only a minority of each generation (15% to 21%) expect the search for a home to get easier any time soon. The findings come from NAHB’s Housing Trends Report (HTR) for the fourth quarter of 2018.

Do You Expect House Search to Get Easier/Harder in Months Ahead?
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers)

Share Expecting House Search to Get Easier By Generation
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers)

Another way to explore buyers’ perceptions about the inventory of housing available in their markets is to ask how the number of for-sale homes (that they like and can afford) is changing compared to three months earlier. In the final quarter of 2018, 27% of buyers reported seeing more such homes on the market, lower than the 34% reporting increases a year earlier.  In contrast, the share of buyers who perceive the inventory of for-sale homes they like and can afford to be lower or unchanged rose from 58% to 64% during this period.

The crunch in housing availability affects buyers of all generations. More than 60% of each group’s buyers report seeing fewer/same number of for-sale homes* in the final quarter of 2018.

Do You See More/Fewer Homes* For-Sale in Your Market (vs. 3 months earlier)?
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers)

Share Reporting Fewer/Same Number of Homes For-Sale* By Generation
(Percent of Prospective Home Buyers)

 * Homes with desired features and price point.

The Housing Trends Report (HTR) is a research product created by the NAHB Economics team with the goal of measuring prospective home buyers’ perceptions about the availability and affordability of homes for-sale in their markets.  The HTR is produced quarterly to track changes in buyers’ perceptions over time.  All data are derived from national polls of representative samples of American adults conducted for NAHB by Morning Consult.  Results are not seasonally adjusted due to the short-time horizon of the series, and therefore only year-over-year comparisons are statistically valid.  A description of the poll’s methodology and sample characteristics can be found here. This is the second in a series of five posts highlighting results for the fourth quarter of 2018.  See previous post on plans to buy.

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1 reply

  1. I am a mortgage advisor licensed in all 50 States- but majority of business is from referral in the Pacific Northwest- especially Portland/Vancouver market.

    In the past few years if we had a buyer looking under $300k in our area- they were limited and needed to show them the rural areas.

    Fast forward to Feb 2019 (today) and there is a healthy amount of homes under $300k as builders are finally delivering “starter” homes while more first time buyers of the last 5 years already outgrown homes and have equity to move up to larger homes and larger lots. I am seeing a HUGE demand in people working from home and want larger lots and commutes no longer issues.

    One of biggest issues is the level of competency an Agent has- I have worked with Agents that have closed every buyer we pre-approved within 60 days- then I have Realtors that send me deals for approval and over 50% never end up buying.

    What the buyers are not aware of is the variance that occurs in Realtors- a knowledgeable agent educates the consumer on the market while having them fully Underwritten with local lender and ready to execute within minutes and not within days. They have already went over a purchase sale agreement and explained the importance of timing.

    The successful buyers are working with agents that encourage them to “shop” for representation. They have created a process for them or someone on their team to be available just about 24/7.

    Buyers agents are paid for by the sellers commission- I wonder if that ever changed and the buyers actually paid them out of pocket if they would ask more questions on the person representing them with biggest debt of their life.

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