Unaffordable Prices Hold Back Prospective Home Buyers


As revealed in a previous post, 56% of buyers who are actively engaged in the process of finding a home have spent upwards of 3 months searching unsuccessfully. What is holding them back? 40% say they can’t find a home at a price they can afford and 32% each say they can’t find a home with the features they want or in a neighborhood they want.

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:

  • 48% will continue looking for the ‘right’ home in the same preferred location,
  • 34% will expand the search area,
  • 23% is willing to accept a smaller/older home,
  • 19% might buy a more expensive home

This quarter marks the first time since the creation of the series that the share who will continue looking for the ‘right’ home in the same location falls below the 50% mark, dropping from 60% in the first quarter of 2018 and 56% in the first quarter of 2019, to the latest 48%. Most home buyers, however, remain committed to homeownership, as only 16% of those searching for a home for 3+ months say they will give up trying until next year or later.

* The Housing Trends Report 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 first quarter of 2020. See previous posts on plans to buy, housing availability, housing affordability, and active buyers.

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2 replies

  1. If buyers find homes to be unaffordable with 30 year mortgage rates at 3.25% it is doubtful they will ever find an affordable home meeting their expectations. Perhaps helping them to modify their expectations to meet reality should be considered.

  2. Not all qualify at lowest rates. And not all areas offer housing choices. In addition, not all can afford the full down on “traditional” SFR. We need jurisdictions to increase supply and diversify housing stock and choice. Cottage, carriage, duplex, triplex, condo, townhome is NOT always zoned, welcome, or encouraged by cities as housing choice. These offer broader range of prices, size choice, aging in place, and homeowner options while diversifying communities and eliminating red lining. Just saying adjusting expectations when rents are also extraordinarily high is taking a very narrow and simplistic view of the issue.

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