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August 30, 2018

To Buy or Not to Buy? That is the Question Non-Homeowners Are Asking

By Geoff Ramsey, CRS, GRI
President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

Despite weakening optimism from non-homeowners at the end of last year that now is a good time to buy, an overwhelming majority said they do want to own a home in the future and believe homeownership is part of their American Dream.

That is according to new consumer survey data from the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), which additionally found that non-homeowners’ lifestyle changes and improvements in their financial situation outweigh seeing their rent increase as the main motivators for deciding to buy a home.

NAR’s Aspiring Home Buyers Profile analyzed 2017 quarterly consumer insights from its Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey to capture the housing expectations and sentiment of non-homeowners – both renters and those living with a family member.

When asked for the primary reason non-homeowners currently do not own, an increasing share of them over the past year said it was because they are unable to afford it. 56 percent of non-owners indicated they could not afford to buy a home each quarter, with the share feeling this way reaching its highest in the last three months of the year.

The swift price growth and painfully low supply levels in much of the country in 2017 also appeared to have dealt a blow to the confidence among non-owners that now is a good time to buy. After reaching a high of 62 percent in the third quarter, the share of non-owners who believed now is a good time to buy slipped to 58 percent at the end of the year.

Even with the dip in morale about buying over the past year, respondents’ views about homeownership are still overwhelmingly positive. Roughly three-quarters of non-owners each quarter said that they eventually want to own a home and also believe that owning a home is part of their American Dream.

As for the main reasons non-owners would buy a home in the future, a change in lifestyle such as getting married, starting a family or retiring was the top choice (24 to 32 percent each quarter), followed by an improvement in their financial situation (26 to 30 percent each quarter) and the desire to settle down in one location (12 to 16 percent each quarter).

According to the survey, roughly half of current renters expect their rent to increase this year (51 percent). If in fact their rent does increase, most indicated that they would resign their lease (42 percent) or move to a cheaper rental (25 percent). Only 15 percent of renters said they would consider purchasing a home.

Housing demand in 2018 has been fueled by more millennials deciding to marry and have kids and the expectations that solid job growth and the strengthening economy will push incomes higher. However, increasing prices and mortgage rates also have caused affordability pressures to persist. That is why it is critical to see an increase in new and existing housing supply. Otherwise, many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting and not reach their dream of being a homeowner.

Buying a home can be a challenging, overwhelming process, but with a little work and a Realtor in your corner now just might be the time to start looking for your next, or first, dream home. Connect with a Realtor to get off on the right foot in your home search. They will provide more tips on how to navigate our housing market and go from a potential buyer to a new homeowner.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice for Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 423.698.8001.

For media inquiries, including a request to receive the monthly sales report and press releases, please contact:
Ashley Honeycutt
Communications Director


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