The number of homebuyers who expect their housing search to become easier in the coming months hit 25 percent, the highest Q1 reading in three years, according to the latest NAHB Housing Trends Report. Though the survey went out from March 17-28 before the full scope of the coronavirus pandemic was realized in the U.S., it still reflects a time of uncertainty. NAHB says that intensifying stay-at-home orders and social distancing may have changed the results. Now that the housing demand is returning, professionals will see if the numbers hold up as the country reopens.
According to the latest Housing Trends Report (HTR), the share of prospective home buyers expecting their house search to get easier in the months ahead rose to 25% in the first quarter of 2020, up from 16% and 22%, respectively, in the first quarters of 2018 and 2019. This rise marks the third consecutive year-over-year increase in the share of buyers expecting housing availability to improve. Conversely, the share of buyers who think availability will worsen (or stay the same) has dropped to 62%, compared to 73% and 67% in the first quarters of 2018 and 2019.
The timing of the data collection for this report is highly consequential. The online survey was in the field from March 17 through March 28, the early stage of the COVID-19 crisis in the US. About 12 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the two weeks immediately after data collection closed. For this reason, we assess that responses in this quarter’s report mostly reflect people’s views prior to the full impact of stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions imposed by local and state governments.