Some Buyers Perceive an Improvement in Housing Affordability

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For some home buyers, housing affordability improved in the last 12 months.   According to the Housing Trends Report for the third quarter of 2020, 27% of buyers report being able to afford half or more of the homes available for-sale in their markets. A year earlier, that share was 20%. The increase is an indication that lower mortgage rates have had a stronger impact on some buyers’ perceptions of affordability than rising home prices. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that most home buyers (72%) still say they can afford only a minority of the homes available in their markets.

Between the third quarters of 2019 and 2020, the share of buyers who can afford half or more of the homes available rose most significantly among Millennials (17% to 31%), but dropped among Boomers (23% to 19%). Across regions, the share rose most significantly in the Northeast (21% to 39%), but dropped in the Midwest (23% to 19%).

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



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  1. If buyers don’t perceive housing as affordable with 30 year fixed rate mortgages well under 4%, the housing industry is going to experience real problems when rates eventually return to more normal ranges.

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