Buyers Reemerge With More Purchasing Power

July 22, 2020

Despite high unemployment numbers, nearly two-thirds of buyers recently surveyed say they’ve been able to save more money for their down payment due to the shelter-in-place orders this spring. Combined with low interest rates (the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.98% last week), more house hunters say they’re stretching their budgets and searching for larger homes in pricier neighborhoods this summer, according to a new survey from realtor.com®, reflecting responses from 2,000 consumers who plan to purchase a home in the next 12 months.

Thirty-eight percent of home buyers recently surveyed say they have increased their target price range since starting their home search. Further, 41%of buyers say they are looking to buy sooner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While the health and economic impact [from the COVID-19 pandemic] has been significant, the U.S. housing market has remained surprisingly resilient, and consumers continue to view home ownership as the foundation of the American dream,” says George Ratiu, realtor.com®’s senior economist. “Home buyers remain steadfast in the main attributes they seek--three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a garage. However, the quarantine has made people rethink where and why they want a new home."

Indeed, garages are becoming more popular. Buyers called garages one of the most important home features, according to the survey. Also, renovated kitchens and large backyard spaces ranked among the top features buyers wanted in both the spring and summer surveys. Also, 84% of buyers say they are looking for a move-in ready home.

Longer commutes may not be a deal breaker either. As remote work options have changed the daily patterns for many, some buyers are showing more willingness to live farther away from their workplaces. Nine percent of consumers say they are willing to commute over an hour, compared with 3% who said they’d be willing to commute that far earlier this spring.

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