The majority of renters say they want to own a home in the future and believe that homeownership is a critical piece of the American dream. But making the leap into homeownership is facing bigger hurdles as the market sees higher home prices and a shortage of homes for sale, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ newly released Aspiring Home Buyers Profile, which is based on findings from a survey of more than 10,000 households’ attitudes about the real estate market.
Non-homeowners surveyed say the main reason why they do not currently own is because they are unable to afford homeownership. Swift price increases and a shortage of homes for sale in most of the country have shaken the confidence of non-owners as they consider buying. As such, the share of non-owners who say now is a good time to buy fell to 58 percent at the end of 2017, following a high of 62 percent in the third quarter of 2017.
“A tug of war continues to take place in many markets throughout the country, where consistently solid job creation is fueling demand, but the lack of supply is creating affordability constraints that are ultimately pulling aspiring buyers further away from owning,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “These extremely frustrating conditions continue to be most apparent at the lower end of the market, which is why the overall share of first-time buyers remains well below where it should be given the strength of the job market and economy.”
Still, non-homeowners’ desire to eventually buy is not waning. They say the following goals most make them want to buy in the future:
- Change in lifestyle, such as getting married, starting a family, or retiring
- Improvement in their financial situation
- Desire to settle down in one location
Until they do buy, non-homeowners expect to face increasing rents. Fifty-one percent of renters surveyed say they expect their rent to increase this year. However, only 15 percent of renters said the increase in rental costs would make them consider purchasing a home.
“Housing demand in 2018 will be fueled by more millennials finally deciding to marry and have kids and the expectations that solid job growth and the strengthening economy will push incomes higher,” Yun says. “However, with prices and mortgage rates also expected to increase, affordability pressures will persist. That is why it is critical for much of the country to start seeing a significant hike in new and existing housing supply. Otherwise, many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting and not reach their dream of being a homeowner.”