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December 2018

Buyers not expecting house-hunting to get easier in coming months

Millennials were the most optimistic when asked if they expected house-hunting to get easier, but only 21 percent said so. For the Gen X segment, only 18 percent expect the search would become easier whereas only 15 percent of boomers thought so.

Affordability is a concern for all age groups, with 75 to 80 percent of buyers in each generation reporting they can afford fewer than half of all the homes available in their markets. Only 21 percent of survey respondents said they could afford a majority of the listings.

The Housing Trends Report, conducted for NAHB by Morning Consult, measures prospective home buyers' perceptions about the availability and affordability of homes for sale in their markets.

Of the survey respondents, 13 percent plan to buy a home within 12 months, continuing a downward trend on that question. During the last quarter of 2017, nearly twice as many, 24 percent, planned to buy a home within twelve months.

Other findings from the third quarter report showed:

  • Millennials are the most likely generation to report planning a home purchase within 12 months (19%)
  • Most prospective home buyers (58%) are first-time buyers. That's down slightly from the second quarter when 61 percent were first-timers.
  • A plurality of buyers (44%) is looking for an existing home; only 18% are in the market for a newly built home.
  • Asked about supply, 29% reported seeing more listings in their price point and with their desired features than during the prior three months.
  • About half the buyers (46%) are already actively trying to find a home to buy, and not just planning it.
  • Of those actively looking for a home, more than half (54%) said they have been searching for at least three months.  
  • Among those actively searching for three or more months, about half (49%) said they've been thwarted by their inability to find an affordable home. Four of every 10 in this category (40%) cited the inability to find a home with desired features as the reason for not buying.

Survey respondents were asked about next steps if they were unable to find a home in the next few months. Most (61%) plan to keep looking until the "right" home opens up in their preferred location, while 37% plan to expand their search area. Nearly one-fourth (23%) said they would accept a smaller/older home than originally intended and 18% said they would postpone their search.