Home Purchase Plans Little Changed by COVID-19


The share of Americans who are considering the purchase of a home in the next 12 months was 11% in the second quarter of 2020, essentially flat when compared to the same quarter in 2019 (12%), according to NAHB's latest Housing Trends Report.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, this finding indicates that the overall number of Americans who want to buy a home has not been impacted by the pandemic. Similarly, the share of these prospective buyers who are first-time buyers is about the same in the second quarter of 2020 (59%) as it was a year earlier (58%).

The timing of the data collection for this report (June 16-28) is notable, as results need to be interpreted in the larger context of the U.S. economy and the trajectory of new case counts at the time. In June, the labor market showed signs of recovery, gaining 4.8 million jobs as the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 11.1%. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate continued to fall, reaching 3.13% by the last week of the month.

The number of COVID cases nationally were stable through the first half of June, only beginning their ascent around June 15. For these reasons, we assess that responses in this quarter's report reflect a period when workers were returning to their jobs, mortgage rates looked increasingly attractive, and the pace of new cases had only recently started to regain speed.

In the second quarter of 2020, millennials are the generation most likely to want to buy a home (19%), even slightly higher than a year earlier (17%). Boomers, on the other hand, are the least likely, with the share planning a home purchase falling from 7% to 5%. Across regions, the share of respondents who are prospective home buyers is unchanged in the Northeast (10%) and South (12%), essentially flat in the West (13%), and just slightly lower in the Midwest (down from 11% to 9%).

Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president, survey research, provides more analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.

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