While Many Buyers Say ‘Now Is a Good Time to Buy,’ Survey Reveals Concerns About Direction of Economy

Real Estate In-Depth | September 2019

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WASHINGTON—New consumer findings from a National Association of Realtors survey released on Sept. 23rd show that more than half of polled Americans believe that now is a good time to buy a home.

Optimism fared well in the third quarter of 2019 as 63% of people said they believe that now is a good time for a home purchase, with 34% of those respondents saying they believe that strongly.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the favorable outlook also contains a degree of caution. “Mortgage rates are at historically low levels, so I see no sign of the optimism about home buying fading,” he said. “However, the fact that slightly fewer are expressing strong intensity compared to recent prior quarters is implying some would-be buyers have concerns about the direction of the economy.”

Among those that stated that now is a good time to purchase a home, the silent generation (those born between 1925 and 1945) were most likely to express that belief. Seventy-five percent from that demographic said that now is a good time to buy. They were closely followed by older boomers (those born between 1946 and 1954), as 72% from that age group agreed that now is a good time to purchase a home.

When NAR’s third quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey asked whether now is a good time to purchase a home, of those who have an income under $50,000, 54% answered “yes.” Answers in the affirmative increased as household incomes increased. In the $50,000 to $100,000 bracket, 64% said now is a good time to buy a home, and among those polled who have an income of $100,000, 72% said that it is currently a good time to buy.

“Not surprisingly, as incomes increase, the process of buying a home is less of a strain,” said Yun. “This has always been the case, but in this third quarter survey, we see it to an even greater extent—high earners are more open to buying a home.”

The NAR survey also asked respondents about their thoughts on selling a home in the current market. Seventy-four percent of those polled said that now is a good time to sell a home—a modest increase over the 73% level registered last quarter. Of those respondents, 45% said they “strongly” believe now is a good time for selling a home, while the remaining 29% said they hold that belief “moderately.”

Those in the West region were most likely to hold this sentiment, as 81% of the region’s respondents said “now is a good time to sell.” In comparison, in the Northeast, 67% said now is a good time to sell a home.

In regard to household income and thoughts on selling a home, the poll found that those in the higher wage brackets were more likely to state a belief in favor of now being a good time to sell a home. Among the surveyed who answered that now is a good time to sell, 82% earn more than $100,000. However, of those who earn less than $50,000, only 64% said now is a good time to sell.

Respondents were also questioned about their outlook toward the U.S. economy. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they believe the U.S. economy is improving. This is a decrease from the second quarter of 2019, when 55% said they believed the economy is improving.

Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1998) were the most pessimistic, only 49% said the economy is improving and 51% said it is not improving. Fifty-four percent of the silent generation—the most optimistic group—said the economy is improving. Forty percent of those in urban areas also believe the economy is improving, compared to 62% in rural areas.

From July through September, a sample of U.S. households was surveyed via a random-digit-dial, including a mix of cell phones and landlines. The survey was conducted by an established survey research firm, TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. Each month approximately 900 qualified households responded to the survey. The data was compiled for this report representing a total of 2,705 household responses.