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February 2021

Builders say COVID-19 continues to influence home purchasing plans

February 4, 2021

COVID-19 continues to have an impact on home purchasing plans, according to the latest Housing Trends Report (HTR) from the National Association of Home Builders.

Researchers reported the share of Americans who are considering the purchase of a home in the next 12 months was 15% in the fourth quarter of 2020. That marked a 4-percentage point gain than a year earlier and the largest year-over-year gain in the 3+ year history of the trends series.

More than half - 56% -- of adults who plan to purchase a home have moved beyond planning and are actively searching. A year ago, the figure was 43%. NAHB cited several factors for the increased activity, including fear of missing out on low mortgage rates, desire for more space due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and desire to move to outlying suburbs.

The share of prospective buyers who would be purchasing a home for the first time declined slightly during the 4th quarter of last year, slipping from 63% to 61%.

The report, which measures prospective home buyers' perceptions about the availability and affordability of homes for-sale in their markets, examined the feedback by generation and region. Among key findings were:

By generation: A larger share of Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X'ers have plans to buy a home compared to the prior year. Millennials had the largest increasing, rising from 19% to 27%.

By region: A larger share of adults in every region said they planned to buy a home in the fourth quarter than a year earlier with the Northwest reporting the largest gain, increasing from 10% to 19%.

Availability expectations: During the 4th quarter, 37% of prospective buyers expect finding the right home would get easier in the months ahead, a significant jump from a year earlier when only 23% expressed that expectation. NAHB attributes the improvement to the fact that more new and existing homes were sold in 2020 than in any year since 2006.

Changes in inventory: 41% of buyers report seeing more homes for sale last quarter than during the 3rd quarter. That improvement is due to the fact that new home production in 2020 reached its highest level since 2007.

The Housing Trends Report is produced quarterly. Data are derived from national polls of representative samples of American adults.