Is the American dream of owning a home still alive and well in 2019? Well, yes and no. The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Aspiring Home Buyers Profile survey revealed some surprising numbers.
NAR’s annual report uses information from its quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) surveys to take an in-depth look at the consumer preferences of Americans who don’t own a home, whether they pay rent or not. Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on everything from housing affordability to the American dream of homeownership to whether it’s a good time to purchase a home.
The 2019 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile found that while more than 90 percent of homeowners still believe that homeownership is part of the American dream, only about 75 percent of non-homeowners feel the same way. Why do nearly one-fourth of those non-homeowners think that way? The answer is simple: Affordability. Nearly half of non-homeowners in the third quarter of 2018 said the main reason they don’t currently own was they couldn’t afford it (up from 33 percent in Q2). Those blaming affordability for their non-homeownership dropped back to 43 percent in Q4.
The non-homeowners’ hesitation might be warranted. While no one can know exactly what will happen in the coming year, many forecasters predict home prices will rise again — at a minimum of 2 to 3 percent — in 2019.
Despite the financial obstacles ahead of them, a majority of non-homeowners remained optimistic last year. Millennials may not be buying diamonds or soap bars, and minimalism reigns supreme with the aging demographic, but homeownership remains part of the American dream, even if the dream is riddled with anxieties.
The number of them who still hoped to own a home in the future never dipped below 73 percent in 2018. Their main reasons they would buy? An improvement in their financial situation (28 to 31 percent) or a change in their living situation, e.g. starting a family or retiring (26 to 30 percent).
An interesting note: In the fourth quarter, the HOME survey added questions pertaining to friends and family moving in with the respondents in 2018. Nine percent of respondents reported an adult child moving in, with another 5 percent reporting another adult moving in during the past year. Nearly half of those respondents said it was planned to be a long-term or permanent move. However, the survey did not ask those respondents if affordability was a factor in this decision.