RISMEDIA, March 21, 2011—Despite the uptick in sales of homes worth one million dollars or more last year (up 18.6% in 2010 according to DataQuick) the average American homebuyer is still proceeding with a large degree of caution. Below are six reasons why even qualified homebuyers are holding out on the decision to purchase a home.
• ATTITUDES: Attitudes toward homeownership are shifting. It is no longer viewed as an investment with a guaranteed positive return. Healthcare, education and other costs are rising so much faster than incomes, making it difficult to picture a future where you can afford both a mortgage and these other essential costs of living.
• SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY: Individuals don’t want to tie up their funds in an illiquid asset if they don’t have a commensurately large amount of liquid funds to weather difficult economic times. In addition, many people’s retirement funds were decimated in the economic and stock market downturn of the Great Recession, making saving for the future even more important and challenging.
• CONFIDENCE: While an individual or couple may be able to afford a home today, uncertainty about the economy and the stability of jobs have many holding back until the economy stabilizes. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports that real median household incomes across all age groups under 55 have not increased since 2000. It’s been posited that this will be the first decade in 40 years where real median household incomes will end lower than where they started. Simply, many Americans just don’t feel comfortable about their financial futures and are choosing to hold off on homeownership until they feel more secure.
• THE CREDIT HOOP: Credit remains tight and lenders are making borrowers jump through hoops in the credit application process. For those who are not really sure about their decision to buy or if they are likely to find something they like in their price range, jumping through hoops for credit may present a significant barrier to getting the home-buying process started.
• TIMING: Potential buyers are unsure if housing prices have hit bottom yet. Home values are expected by many experts, including Yale Economist, Robert Shiller, to continue falling in the short term by as much as 15-25% more. With the job market still on very rocky ground, the foreclosure crisis continuing to unfold and the homebuyer tax credit gone, it’s anticipated that demand for middle market homes will remain relatively weak.
• MOBILITY: Americans realize that moving in order to attain or keep a job is more likely when economic times are tough vs. when jobs are plentiful. In this regard, home ownership offers far less flexibility than renting.
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