Unaffordable Prices Hold Back Prospective Home Buyers


As revealed in a previous post, 55% of buyers actively searching for a home to buy in the second quarter of 2019 have been looking – unsuccessfully – for three months or longer. Why is it taking these buyers that long to pull the trigger?  The most important reason is they can’t find a home at a price they can afford (50%), followed by not being able to find a home in the neighborhood of their choice (43%), and not finding a home with the features they want (40%).  Comparing these findings to similar data from a year earlier shows a 5-point increase in the share of buyers who consider high prices their biggest barrier to homeownership, up from 45% in Qtr2’18.

The final question in NAHB’s Housing Trends Report* asks these veteran house hunters, who have been actively searching for a home for at least three months, about their future plans if the right home remains elusive in the months ahead:

  • 62% will continue looking for the ‘right’ home in the same preferred location,
  • 36% will expand the search area,
  • 21% is willing to accept a smaller/older home,
  • 16% might buy a more expensive home

Giving up on homeownership until next year or later is the likeliest next step for only 16% of those searching for a home for 3+ months, the exact same share as a year ago. Future polls will determine if this propensity will shift based on the changing dynamics of the housing market.

* 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 fifth and final in a series of posts highlighting results for the second quarter of 2019. See previous posts on plans to buy, housing availability, and housing affordability, and active buyers.

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