Homebuyer optimism weakens despite favorable conditions

by Francis Monfort20 Dec 2017
Fewer consumers now think now is a good time buy or sell a home in spite of favorable market and economic conditions, according to results of the Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey released by National Association of Realtors (NAR) for the fourth quarter.

The survey revealed a decrease in the share of homeowners who believe now is a good time to sell to 76% from 80% in the previous quarter despite the seller’s markets across the US. Renters are also less optimistic about buying a home. After rising to 62% in the third quarter, the share of renters who believe now is a good time to buy slipped to 60%. NAR said that these changes come even though recent months saw steady job creation, record stock market gains, and faster economic growth.

“The trifecta of faster economic expansion, robust hiring, and low mortgage rates should be generating a surge in optimism and home sales as 2017 winds down,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun sad. “Sadly, this is not the case. While overall demand remains high, it is not translating to meaningful sales gains. Too many prospective first-time buyers see few options within their budget and home prices that are rising much faster than their incomes. Until we start seeing a steady increase in new and existing inventory, sales will fail to deliver on their full potential and many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting,” Yun said.

Additionally, NAR found that households are now less confident about the economy and their financial situation. During the quarter, 52% of households believed the economy is improving, a decrease from the 57% share in the third quarter and the 54% share in the fourth quarter of 2016. The survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index, which shows respondents’ confidence that their financial situation will be better in six months, fell from 62 in September to 59.1 in December.

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First-time homebuyers feel the crunch of record unaffordability, dearth of inventory
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