Home Prices are the Principal Barrier to Homeownership

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A recent Eye on Housing blog post revealed that 58% of buyers actively searching for a home to buy in the fourth quarter of 2018 have been looking unsuccessfully for at least three months. Why is it taking these buyers so long to pull the trigger? The most important reason is they can’t find a home at a price they can afford (49%), followed by not being able to find a home with the features they want (44%), and not finding a home in the neighborhood of their choice (43%). These were the findings from the most recent Housing Trends Report (HTR), 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. Comparing these findings to similar data from the fourth quarter of 2017 shows that these barriers to homeownership only intensified during the year in question.

Reasons Active Buyers Have Been Unsuccessful Finding a Home to Buy for 3+ Months (Percent of Active Home Buyers)

If the right home remains elusive for these buyers in the months ahead, these house hunters reported they will do the following:
  • 63% will continue looking for the ‘right’ home in the same preferred location
  • 44% will expand the search area
  • 23% are willing to accept a smaller/older home
  • 18% might buy a more expensive home
Giving up on homeownership is the least likely outcome, as only 16% will stop trying to find a home. NAHB economist Rose Quint provides more details in this Eye on Housing blog post.

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