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November 2015

Housing Pulse Survey

Americans upbeat about homeownership

More than 80 percent of Americans believe purchasing a home is a good financial decision and two-thirds of respondents in a recent survey believe now is a good time to buy a home.

Those were among the findings in this year's National Housing Pulse Survey from the National Association of REALTORS®. The survey measured consumers' attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas.

A growing number of renters have homeownership on their priority lists. Sixty-one percent of this cohort now says that eventually owning a home is a high personal priority, up 11 points from 2013. The number of renters who are now thinking about purchasing a home has increased since the last survey in 2013, rising from 36 percent to 39 percent.

When asked for reasons about why homeownership matters to them, respondents' answers were consistent with findings from past years. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top three reasons to own a home.

"Homeownership is part of the American Dream, and this survey proves that dream is alive and thriving in our communities," said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. "Realtors® believe that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream in a safe, responsible way, which is why NAR advocates homeownership issues and educating potential buyers about achieving their property investment goals."

Pollsters noted improved attitudes about the housing market compared to prior years, but also reported perceived obstacles to homeownership are mostly unchanged:

  • A preponderance of respondents (79 percent) believe they could sell their home for at least its initial purchase price, a jump of 16 percentage points from 2013.
  • Forty-nine percent of respondents think activity in the housing market has increased in the past year, compared to 44 percent in 2013 and 12 percent in 2011.
  • Eighty-nine percent expect home sales in their area to either increase or remain the same.
  • Concern about foreclosures has also declined, with only 15 percent of respondents indicating that foreclosure is a major concern.

When asked about obstacles to homeownership, perceptions are similar to previous surveys. Seventy-eight percent of respondents cite college debt and student loans as the main impediment. About the same margin of respondents (76 percent) said they have a full-time job but still did not earn enough to purchase a home. Three-fourths of respondents (74 percent) believe they lack sufficient funds for a down payment and closing costs.

Among millennials under age 35, the burden of student debt is their chief concern, with 86 percent of respondents saying it is an obstacle to homeownership. Despite voicing concern about high housing costs, millennials tended to be more upbeat about the nation's future than their older counterparts. Forty-two percent of millennials believe the country is headed in the right direction, while only 20 percent of those aged 50 or older expressed such optimism.

Survey respondents were also asked about pre-purchase counseling programs and classes. A large majority (80 percent) believe such programs are very or somewhat important. Forty-five percent of homeowners who said they did not take a counseling program said they would have participated in one had it been easily available to them.

The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR's Housing Opportunity Program. This was the 11th Pulse Survey commissioned by NAR. The telephone survey polled 1,000 adults nationwide in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. An additional 250 interviews were conducted with millennial adults (born after 1981) from the same geography.