Few Americans think “it is a good time to buy a house”

Since 1978, Gallup has asked Americans whether they think “it is a good time to buy a house.” The percentages of Americans agreeing with this in 2022 and 2023 are the lowest figures recorded:

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Twenty-one percent of U.S. adults believe it is a good time to buy a house, down nine percentage points from the prior low recorded last year. The 2022 and 2023 readings are the only times that less than half of Americans have perceived the housing market as being good for buyers in Gallup’s trend since 1978…

Gallup first asked Americans about their perceptions of the housing market in 1978, when 53% thought it was a good time to buy a house. Thirteen years later, when the question was asked again, 67% held that view. The record high of 81% was recorded in 2003, at a time of growing homeownership rates and housing prices…

Opinions of the housing market are bleak and generally similar among all major subgroups, including by region, urbanicity, homeownership status, income, education and party identification. Subgroups in these categories range from 18% to 24% thinking it is a good time to buy a house.

Americans tend to like homeownership. Thus, this data could be interest if it goes toward the direction toward less interest in buying homes and less support for policies that privilege homeownership. If enough Americans are this pessimistic, perhaps they do not think they can pursue owning a home. Perhaps they want policies that provide help for renting or other housing options. Perhaps their inability to purchase a home at younger ages means they will not be able to catch up later.

However, I suspect the pessimism of 2022 and 2023 is tied to current conditions more than it signals a large shift in how Americans think about homeownership. The Gallup data suggests support went down a bit in the mid-2010s and then dropped off in the last two years. It might take another year or two to see if (1) housing conditions improve and (2) support rises. Of course, housing conditions may not improve much and a longer-term run of pessimism could lead to bigger changes.

The bigger question might be this: how many years of negative perceptions about owning a home will it take for patterns to change long-term?

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