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Poll: U.S. housing market pessimism grows

By Lee Cleveland - May 19, 2023

The U.S. housing market has experienced a significant decline in optimism, with fewer Americans than ever before perceiving it as a good time to buy a house. Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance poll reveal that only 21% of U.S. adults believe it is currently favorable for homebuyers, marking a nine-percentage-point drop from the previous year.

The Decline in Homebuyer Optimism:
According to Gallup’s long-term trend data since 1978, the current 21% rating is the lowest recorded for buyer satisfaction.

Prior to 2022, more than 50% of Americans consistently considered it a good time to purchase a house. However, the past two years have witnessed a significant shift in sentiment, with less than half of the population viewing the housing market as favorable for buyers.

Factors Influencing Pessimism:
Several factors have contributed to the decline in optimism regarding the housing market. The rapid increase in housing prices and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to curb inflation by raising interest rates have made homes less affordable for many Americans. As a result, prospective homebuyers face significant financial barriers, deterring them from entering the market.

Historical Perspective:
Over the years, public perceptions of the housing market have fluctuated in response to changing economic conditions. Following the burst of the housing bubble in the late 2000s, when home prices plummeted, optimism about homebuying rebounded due to lower prices and favorable interest rates. However, the recent surge in housing prices and rising interest rates have reversed this trend, leading to a more negative outlook.

Regional and Subgroup Differences:
The bleak outlook on the housing market cuts across all major subgroups and regions. Whether categorized by region, urbanicity, homeownership status, income, education, or political affiliation, the percentage of individuals who consider it a good time to buy a house ranges from 18% to 24%. This indicates a widespread lack of confidence in the current housing market conditions.

Expectations for Home Prices:
Gallup also monitors public expectations for future home prices in respondents’ local areas. In 2021, a record-high 71% predicted that local home prices would increase over the next year. However, as home prices have started to decline in many regions, fewer Americans now anticipate an increase in home values. Currently, 56% hold this view, while 25% expect prices to remain the same, and 19% anticipate a decrease.

Regional Variations in Price Expectations:
Regional disparities exist regarding predictions of local home prices. Midwestern residents are less likely than those in other parts of the country to expect prices to rise. Town or rural residents also display a lower inclination to anticipate an increase compared to their city and suburban counterparts.

Implications and Future Outlook:
The declining optimism in the housing market presents challenges for prospective homebuyers and the overall real estate industry. Affordability concerns, driven by high prices and interest rates, are likely discouraging potential buyers from entering the market.

However, it is worth noting that despite the current pessimism, Americans still regard real estate as a reliable long-term investment.

If stabilization or downward pressure on home prices occurs, accompanied by stable or declining interest rates, it could potentially enhance affordability and encourage more Americans to consider homeownership. Monitoring market trends and developments will be crucial in understanding how the housing market evolves and if conditions improve for prospective homebuyers.

In conclusion, the prevailing pessimism regarding the U.S. housing market reflects the challenges posed by high prices and interest rates, making homeownership less affordable for many Americans.


Tags: real estate