Housing Market Trends & Preferences

with the desired set of features is also an important hindrance. A recent poll asked prospective buyers which features they consider to be essential in their next home. Results were calculated separately for first-time and second-time+ home buyers (those buying their second, third or more home).

More than 40% of first-time home buyers consider 10 features to be essential, starting with a living room, a laundry room, a dining room, garage storage, and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom. This short list also includes a front porch, a 2-car garage, and a double sink in the kitchen (Figure 2).

The list of essential features is a bit longer among second-time+ buyers. It contains many of the same items wanted by first-time buyers, plus a few more: a patio, table space for eating in the kitchen, hardwood floors in the main level, energy-star appliances, and granite countertops in the kitchen.

Interestingly, the top two features are identical in both groups, although in reverse order: the laundry room and the living room.

REASONS FOR NOT MOVING IN 10+ YEARS

Currently, one of the most pressing issues in the housing market is the lack of inventory available for-sale. Part of the problem stems from the fact that existing homeowners are staying in their homes longer than they used to, and therefore keeping their homes off-the-market. A recent poll asked people living in their homes for 10 years or longer the reasons they have chosen to stay put for so long.

By far, the most important reason long-term residents are not moving is because they like their home and are comfortable in it (70%), followed by their lack of desire to go through the hassle/ expense of finding another home and moving (21%). Meanwhile, 10% say it is because there are no homes on the market they would want to buy and could afford. This last finding suggests that a not-so-trivial 10% of people living in their homes for a decade or more could be enticed to move if only there were more homes on the market to choose from.

Of all the possible reasons long-term residents could choose from to explain their long stay, the three least important ones are: not wanting to give up a current low mortgage interest rate (5%), moving to a new job would require going to a more expensive area (4%), and the home is underwater (3%). This suggests that a desire to keep a low mortgage rate is far from being the primary culprit for the reduced mobility seen in recent years (as is sometimes attributed).

A MAJORITY OF HOME BUYERS DON’T EXPECT AVAILABILITY TO IMPROVE IN 2018

A recent poll found that buyers’ perceptions about the availability of homes for-sale in the near future are not particularly optimistic: 40% say that finding the right home will become harder in the months ahead, 25% say it won’t change, and only 27% think it will get easier. Put differently, 65% of buyers don’t expect the home search to get any easier in 2018.

Further highlighting buyers’ poor perceptions of housing availability, the majority don’t see the number of homes on the market (compared to three months earlier) moving in the right direction: 35% see fewer homes (like the one they are looking for with desired features and price point), 23% see no change, and only 34% see more homes. In all then, 58% don’t see the number of homes with the right features and price range increasing on the market. Nonetheless, being keenly aware of the housing inventory issues currently constraining the market is no deterrence to these buyers –they are determined to continue the search to buy a home in the next 12 months. SCBJ