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Weighing Homebuyer Optimism

After February’s transition from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market, many potential homebuyers agree that now is a good time to buy. According to survey data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 37 percent of buyers stated that they strongly believe now is a good time to buy, up from 34 percent in Q4 2018 but down from 38 percent one year ago.

The Q1 2019 NAR Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey found that just 35 percent of respondents said that now is not a good time to buy a home, compared to 37 percent in Q4 2018. Over half, 53 percent, of respondents believe that the economy is improving, a slight year over year decline from last year’s 59 percent.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun noted what is driving this optimism.

"First, inventory has been rising, so those buyers interested in making a purchase will not be limited in choices,” Yun stated. “Additionally, more stable home price trends are leading to more foot traffic at various open house gatherings."

According to Yun, those who live in the Northeast and South, those who earn $50,000 to $100,000, or those who rent are the most likely to believe home prices are due to increase in their communities.

A high percentage of the Western population believes that prices increased in the past year, while—possibly for the same reason—a higher segment from the West compared to other regions say prices could fall in the next 12 months," Yun said. "As to the broader economy, the perception is weaker and showing cracks in the Midwest."

Additionally, Yun and NAR note that, despite some misconceptions, mortgage affordability in Q1 2019 has been more favorable for would-be homebuyers than it has been in recent quarters, citing the Fed’s decision to delay a rate hike.

“The Federal Reserve's decision to refrain from any foreseeable rate hikes was beneficial to potential buyers," Yun said. "That move directly contributed to mortgage rates declining in quarter one, which provided a second-chance opportunity to those looking to buy who were priced out last quarter."

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing. He is a contributing writer for MReport. An East Texas Native, he has studied abroad in Athens, Greece and works part-time as a photographer.
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