Study: 'Stay at Home' Prompts More Renters to Want to Own

Originally published by: Multifamily ExecutiveJune 12, 2020

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A recent consumer study finds that 46% of respondents would now prefer to own versus rent, and for those households planning to continue to rent, single-family detached homes are a top choice.

A couple holding keys

What impact does a public health pandemic have on new home demand? The America At Home Study, conducted online from April 23 to April 30 of 3,001 consumers 25 to 74 years old with household incomes of $50,000 plus, asked renters whether COVID-19 has made them more or less likely to want to own versus rent a home. Almost half (46%) of renters say they would now prefer to own versus rent, representing 7.4 million households in the U.S. The majority of them are younger (millennials and Gen X groups combined) between the ages of 25 and 44. This is a sizable shift since the NAHB’s first quarter 2020 Housing Trends Report indicated just 16% of millennials were looking to make their first home purchase in the next year.

Despite dramatically rising unemployment rates and the subsequent anxiety and financial stress that is expected around the idea of “home,” when asked to rank a series of phrases about what “home” means to them, “financial worry” was the second to lowest rated of a list of 10 choices, at just 23%. This additional demand from renters wanting to buy as a result of COVID-19 could be a silver lining for new home building. Meeting this potential new demand starts with understanding who these buyers are and what they want.