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Confidence Gap Between Renters and Owners Continues to Shrink

The “confidence gap” between renters and owners is shrinking in areas across the nation, according to Zillow’s Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI). Renter confidence rose 4.4 points from last year to 62.4, with roughly 5.2 million renters saying they expect to buy a home this year. That’s an increase of 1 million from last year, when 4.2 million renters said they expect to buy a home. Homeowner confidence rose 3.3 points from last year to 70.6.

Rapidly improving local markets and future expectations in performance are reasons renters cite for their increase in confidence, not their own personal prospects. The two ZHCI sub-indices asking renters about their local housing market conditions (HMCI) and their expectations for their local housing market (HEI) improved the most over the past year. The sub-index that asks renters about their specific homeownership aspirations (HAI) increased more modestly. Moreover, while the HMCI and HEI showed strong improvement between January 2014 and July 2014, and again between July 2014 and January 2015, the HAI improved only during the first half of 2014 but was flat during the second half of the year.

The share of renters who expect to buy a home this year increased in eight metro areas including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco. More noteworthy, is the number of renters who have previously been less likely to enter the housing market, might be instrumental in helping boost home sales in 2015. According to Zillow knowing how young adults, low-income, and minority renters stand is crucial to understanding the future of the market.

Young adults, age 18 to 34, who said they expect to buy a home in the next 12 months increased in half the metro areas surveyed. The largest year-over-year percentage point increases among those younger renters who indicated plans to buy were in Phoenix, San Francisco and Atlanta. Only six metro areas saw no change in confidence and four areas saw points decrease. The largest percentage point decreases were in Los Angeles and Miami.

The share of low-income renters, including renters with an income less than $25,000, who said they expect to buy in the next 12 months increased in six metro areas, was flat in six and fell in eight. The largest year-over-year percentage point increases among those low-income renters who indicated plans to buy were in Dallas and Chicago. The largest declines were in Dallas, Las Vegas and Minneapolis.

The share of black renters who said they expect to buy in the next 12 months increased in eight metro areas, was flat in seven and fell in five. The largest year-over-year percentage point increases among those black renters who indicated plans to buy were in Phoenix and Denver. The largest declines were in Tampa and San Diego. The share of Hispanic renters who said they expect to buy in the next 12 months increased in 12 metro areas, was flat in three and fell in five. The largest year-over-year percentage point increases among those Hispanic renters who indicated plans to buy were in Phoenix, Denver and Tampa. The largest declines were in Boston and Philadelphia.

The index is measured on a 100-point scale, with readings more than 50 indicating a surplus of confidence.

About Author: Samantha Guzman

Samantha Guzman is an award-winning visual journalist and graduate of the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism. She specializes in visual storytelling and has skills in video, audio and photography, in addition to news writing. She has traveled to Mexico and Bosnia as an assistant for multiple multimedia projects and taught news writing, photojournalism, and narrative storytelling in the past.
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