Most Americans still aspire to the dream of owning their own home

Owning a home is still very much part of the American dream with those who have their own property and tenants believing it to be an important aspiration, new research has found.

Some 75% of non-owners believe home ownership is part of the dream while one in 10 current home owners do too, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

When non-home owners were asked for the chief reason why they currently do not own a home, most respondents said it was because they were currently unable to afford a mortgage.

Indeed, NAR data shows that in the last quarter of 2018 some 43% of non-owners said they did not own a home because they were not in a position to purchase, which was down from the third quarter of 2018, when 49% of non-home owners answered the same.

Also in the fourth quarter, 33% of non-home owners said they do not own because current life circumstances are not suitable for ownership, while 16% said they need the flexibility of renting.

In addition, the survey looked at the main reason why non-home owners would buy a home in the future and found that throughout 2018, some 28% to 31% of non-owners each quarter said an improvement in their financial situation would be the top reason that would encourage them to buy a home in the future.

In each quarter 26% to 30% of non-owners said a change in lifestyle, such as getting married, starting a family or retiring, would be the primary reason they would make a future home purchase.

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, unaffordable housing has caused a number of potential buyers to hold off on purchasing a new home. ‘The lack of affordable and moderately priced homes has forced non-home owners to delay achieving that part of the American Dream,’ he said.

‘However, as the survey confirms, significant lifestyle changes like marriage or starting a family often spur non-owners to pursue home ownership,’ he added.

But he pointed out that while home sales were slightly down in 2018, there is still a sizable pent-up housing demand. ‘Economic growth, interest rates, and the supply of moderately priced homes will dictate how well the real estate industry will do this year,’ Yun said.