May 16, 2023 - Economy

Americans believe it's the worst time ever to buy a house

Data: Gallup; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Gallup; Chart: Axios Visuals

A record share of Americans believes it's a bad time to buy a house, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday morning. The percentage hasn't been this high since Gallup started asking the question in 1978.

The big picture: The decision to buy a house is personal, and dependent on one's own finances and location, of course — still, the survey respondents have a point.

  • Home prices have increased by an astonishing amount over the past three years: The median sale price of a U.S. home was up 32% in the first quarter of 2023 from the first quarter of 2020, per census data.
  • Meanwhile, mortgage rates have soared.
  • Oh, and did we mention the lack of available inventory, as current homeowners feel locked into their legacy low mortgage rates and are reluctant to sell?

Zoom out: Until 2022, a majority of Americans have told Gallup it was a good time to buy even through the housing boom and bust of 2005-2008.

  • That changed last year as mortgage rates started to rise. Only 30% of Americans said it was a good time to buy in 2022 — a 23-point drop from the year before.
  • That the number fell even more in 2023 is striking. Now only 21% of Americans think it's a good time to buy.

But, but, but: When Gallup asks people what they think is the best long-term investment, real estate still tops the list, said Jeff Jones, senior editor of the Gallup poll.

  • "With a longer view, people still endorse real estate."
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