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Homeownership

Millennials ‘kill’ everything, but not the American dream of homeownership

(REAL ESTATE) Homeownership may come with anxieties, but Millennials aren’t giving up on it as part of the American dream. Here are the current sentiment studies.

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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.

Staff Writer, Krystal Hagan holds a bachelor of journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives the full-time RV life just outside Austin, Texas, with her musician partner, three dogs, and a six-toed cat. In her free time, she binges TV shows, brandishes her otherwise useless pop-culture knowledge at trivia nights, and tries to become BFFs with every animal she meets.

Homeownership

How buyers are competing in a tight home buyers market

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s a seller’s market with housing supply at an all-time low. Here’s what buyers are doing to increase their chances of buying a home.

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Family unloading boxes inside of a home, previous home buyers.

Home inventory is at an all-time low in most places around the country. Most people believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible. Families are staying put in their homes, rather than looking for a new place to live. The National Association of Realtors reports that in March there were almost 5 offers for every home sold in the United States. Utah Realtors reported an average of 7 offers per home. Sellers and realtors are winning in this highly competitive market, making us wonder how buyers are faring. The latest REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey gives us some indication of what buyers are doing to boost their real estate transaction success.

Cash is king

According to the NAR, cash sales are up by an average of 21%. Buyers are hoping that cash makes their offer more attractive. Closing without a loan has a lot of benefits to the seller. The sale is more likely to close, as it isn’t dependent on a loan. Plus, there are less costs involved in closing. Since 2013, cash sales haven’t been trending upward, so this is an interesting turn for sellers. Buyers who make cash offers reduce the risk of getting rejected by the seller.

Buyers making larger down payments

Sellers also benefit when buyers make a 20% down payment or more. A higher down payment increases the chance of getting a loan. According to the NAR, almost 50% of buyers are making a down payment of at least 20%, which is up from 40% of buyers in 2011. Buyers avoid mortgage insurance premiums, which makes it a win-win for everyone.

Buyers aren’t even offering or negotiating

The third way buyers are coping in this market is to back off and not even make an offer when they know a home already has competition. Why get your hopes up, only to have them dashed when you can’t negotiate?

Will supply return?

The good news is that the housing supply outlook is on the increase. As vaccinations roll out and people feel safer to show their home, more homes should come on the market. Housing permits are up, too. This should help even out the market and give buyers a better chance to find a home.

 

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Homeownership

Home sales dip 10%, inventory levels continue to plague the market

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) While demand for home sales has remained high, a lack of inventory means that numbers have continued to dip, according to the NAR.

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Home interior with gray couch, cactus pillows, and succulents on the coffee table in front of the couch.

In February, all regions experienced a decrease in pending home sales (contracts penned), according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Compared to January, sales fell 10.6%, and fell 0.5% from February 2020.

As with every real estate news story you’ve read here in recent years, NAR continues to point to tight inventory levels as the continuing plague on the market.

“The demand for a home purchase is widespread, multiple offers are prevalent, and days-on-market are swift but contracts are not clicking due to record-low inventory,” said NAR’s Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun.

He observes that overall demand does not appear to be impacted by mortgage rates trending upwards, expected to remain low at no more than 3.5% this calendar year.

It is interesting to note, however, that more expensive homes had increased sales activity because of “reasonable supply,” per Dr. Yun, adding that homes above the $250,000 mark have driven home sales in recent months.

That said, Dr. Yun indicates that even homes priced above $500,000 to less than $1 million are subject to the tight inventory challenges.

“Potential buyers may have to enlarge their geographic search areas, given the current tight market,” Dr. Yun noted. “If there were a larger pool of inventory to select from – ideally a five- or a six-month supply – then more buyers would be able to purchase properties at an affordable price.”

In past months, NAR has repeatedly pointed to the same solution to the inventory challenge – new home builders. If supply were increased and housing starts improved, demand would be more readily satiated and fewer people would be priced out of the market.

Economic conditions typically shift under any new President, and with an ongoing pandemic, we are watching for any signs of hope in a dark time. With building material costs continuing to increase, labor conditions in the sector remaining difficult, mortgage rates are rising (albeit slowly), inventory levels are not expected to immediately improve.

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Homeownership

Why realtors shouldn’t use the term ‘Starter Home’

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) You see the term in the MLS for fixer uppers, you hear it when Realtors are working with first time buyers. But the term “starter home” shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary. Here’s why.

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Just words

Collins English Dictionary defines a starter home as a “small, new house which is cheap enough for people who are buying their first home to afford.” You won’t find the phrase too often outside of the real estate industry.

There isn’t much about the etymology of the phrase, but most likely, it’s a marketing ploy to get people to buy into the idea of purchasing another home in a few years.

Grind your gears

Mark Greutman, husband to Lauren Greutman, believes that the term “starter home” should bother people. The phrase implies that you will upgrade later.

Your starter home isn’t good enough for the rest of your life. And not to get into how well Americans have it, what about people who will never be able to afford anything more? Is it an insult to them?

Do you really need two living rooms?

Older generations bought one home and lived in it until they could no longer be independent. In today’s world, we buy a starter home, then upgrade to have more space, to live farther away from our neighbors, to have rooms that are only used once or twice a year, and to make sure you have a 2 or 3 car garage to hold your vehicles and more stuff, some of which isn’t taken out very often.

But consider this: You could pay off your starter home in 15 to 20 years, if you budget right.

You could be out from under a mortgage and have money to travel, send the kids to college, or even retire early. When you think about what led to the financial crisis in 2008, isn’t it better to have a smaller house where you can make the payments than worry about losing your house?

Be content where you are

Realtors are motivated to make sure that they have customers. If people buy one home with the intent to stay, will the market dry up? Probably not, because people move and a new generation will be ready to purchase homes for their own family.

Let’s think about that phrase, “starter home.” It fuels consumerism and discontentment. Don’t call cheaper houses starter homes, but just a home.

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