Growing morale chasm between owners and renters

by Ryan Smith14 Jul 2016
There’s a growing gap in morale between homeowners and renters, according to the results of a recent survey.

The National Association of Realtors recently released the results of its Housing Opportunities and Marketing Experience survey, which studied consumer sentiment about the housing market. Despite sluggish economic growth and continually rising home prices, about three quarters of survey respondents believe it’s a good time to buy a home. But a further breakdown of the results shows a stark difference in attitude between current homeowners and renters.

Through the first half of the year, NAR found the share of homeowners and renters who believe now is a good time to buy remained fairly steady. Around 80% of homeowners felt it was a good time to buy, with 62% of renters agreeing. However, the share of renters who think it’s a good time to buy has dropped from 68% in December, according to NAR. And renters under 35 had the least confidence that is was a good time to buy.

“Existing-home prices surpassed their all-time peak this spring and have climbed on average over 5% nationally in the first five months of the year – and even faster in areas with severe supply shortages,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Most homeowners appear to realize that if they’re ready to sell, they’ll likely find a buyer rather quickly and be able to use the sizeable equity they’ve accumulated in recent years towards their next home purchase. Meanwhile, renters interested in buying continue to face minimal choices, strong competition and home prices growing faster than their incomes.”

The survey also found that student debt was causing many to be hesitant about taking on additional financial obligations. The survey found that about two thirds of non-homeowners – and half of respondents under 35 with student debt – said they weren’t comfortable with the idea of having a mortgage. Non-homeowners and young people with student debt were also less likely to believe they would qualify for a mortgage if they applied, according to NAR.

“It’s becoming very evident from this survey and our research released last month that the financial and emotional impact of repaying student debt is contributing to a delay in purchasing a home for many would-be buyers,” Yun said. “At a time of quickly rising rents, mortgage rates at all-time lows and increasing housing wealth, a lot of young adults in their prime buying years are struggling to enter the market and are ultimately missing out on the stability and wealth accumulation that owning a home can provide.”


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