Low Mortgage Rates Continue to Convert Passive Buyers into Active Buyers


Of the 13% of American adults considering a future home purchase in the third quarter of 2020, 50% have moved beyond planning and are actively trying to find one to buy. That is a solid gain from the comparable figure a year ago (44%), which suggests that the COVID-19 crisis and its accompanying record-low mortgage rates continue to convert some passive buyers into active buyers.

Between the third quarters of 2019 and 2020, larger shares of Millennials (45% to 58%) and Gen X’ers (42% to 52%) planning to buy a home have become engaged and are actively searching for a home. In contrast, fewer prospective Gen Z and Boomer buyers report having started the process. Geographically, larger shares of prospective buyers in every region are actively trying to find a home to buy than a year ago.

As the number of active buyers searching for a home increases, the length of time spent searching continues to grow. In the third quarter of 2020, 62% of buyers actively engaged in the purchase process have spent 3 months or longer looking, compared to 58% a year earlier. This marks the seventh consecutive year-over-year gain in the share of active buyers looking for 3+ months for a home to buy.

* 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 fourth in a series of five posts highlighting results for the third quarter of 2020. See previous posts on plans to buy, housing availability, and housing affordability.


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