Housing Sentiment Up; So are Regrets

With the housing market finally well into an up cycle, it’s easy (or convenient) to forget just how bad things got. A new study from Trulia, San Francisco, says while Americans feel more positive about homeownership, scars remain.

Trulia, through Harris, conducted an online poll asking Americans about how they feel about their real estate decisions. It first conducted the poll in 2013, just after home prices hit bottom; since then, Americans’ sentiment about housing has changed.

“Hearts and minds are coming around: Americans feel more positive about homeownership and overall regrets about housing choices have edged lower,” Trulia said (https://www.trulia.com/blog/trends/regrets-2017/).

But the market’s wild ride has left scars since Trulia last asked Americans about their real estate decisions. The online Harris Poll among 2,264 U.S. adults ages 18 and older reported today, 44% of Americans have a regret about their current home or the process they went through to when choosing it, a slight decrease from 46% five years go.

Other poll findings:

–More than one in five Americans, 21%, say a housing purchase mistake they made in the past is now holding them back from changing their current housing situation.

More than one-fourth (26%) of those with an annual household income of $100,000 or more–a level roughly 50% more than the median U.S. household income of $73,298–believed they could not afford to buy a home in the current market.
–A majority of Americans, 62%, believe housing costs have become at least somewhat less affordable since 2012–of which 26% say it is much less affordable.

–Among Americans who were involved in choosing their current home, the top regret among renters was deciding to rent instead of buying a home, 41%, while more homeowners wished they had chosen a larger home, 33%, the same top regrets they had in 2013.

For those involved in their home selection process, when asked if they had any regrets about their current home and the process they went through when choosing it, 51% said they had regrets. Among those with regrets, more renters wished they had bought instead of rented, while more homeowners regret not buying a bigger or smaller home. While these regrets largely remained unchanged from 2013, fewer people expressed regrets today.

Among those with regrets, young adults, ages 18 to 34, were the most likely, 71%, to have regrets. Their biggest regret? More than one-third, 34%, said they wished they had picked a different-sized home, with 29% wishing it were a larger home. Millennials were also twice as likely than older Americans, 17% vs. 7% overall, to wish they were more financially secure before making their housing decision.

Additionally, more Americans still believe it’s more important for borrowers to pay off credit card debt first (40%). That’s something personal finance experts say is the right choice given credit cards’ high interest rates. But home loans, specifically mortgages, rank as a close second (28%) as a priority for Americans, which are considered good debt and expected to be carried over a long period.

On a positive note, the survey noted though many Americans may have been burned by a housing decision in the past, or view today’s market as unaffordable, they by and large still believe homeownership is something for which to strive.

This finding is similar to those of a survey this week by Digital Risk, Maitland, Fla., which reported a majority of homeowners perceive the housing market as having strengthened and an overwhelming number of respondents view owning a house as a solid investment.

The Digital Risk survey said more than half of homeowners believe the housing market in their region and nationwide has improved. It also reported the majority of homeowners (91%) and renters (83%) view home ownership as a good investment.