Though consumers are optimistic about the economy and their own personal financial situations, more are expressing anxiety about their ability to buy a home, save for a down payment, and qualify for a mortgage, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey for the first quarter of 2018.
The share of consumers who are confident about buying a home edged down to 68 percent in the latest survey—which is based on responses from about 2,000 people—from 72 percent in the previous quarter and is now at the lowest level in two years. Renters are the least optimistic: 55 percent say now is a good time to buy a home compared to 60 percent in the previous quarter. They perceive the top barriers to homeownership to be saving for a down payment and qualifying for a mortgage, stemming from concerns about future incomes, student loan debt, and having a low credit score, according to the survey.
Meanwhile, current homeowners, older consumers, and those living in more affordable housing markets in the Midwest and Southern regions express the most optimism about buying. “The critical shortage of listings in most markets continues to spark a hike in home prices that is not easy for many buyers—especially first-time buyers—to overcome,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Adding more fuel to the affordability fire is the fact that mortgage rates have shot up to a four-year high in just a few months. Many house hunters are telling REALTORS® that they are dispirited by the stiff competition for the short number of listings they can afford.”