Moving Study: Americans are Still Looking for Their Forever Home

The current U.S. economic climate, with its looming recession, inflation, housing shortage and more, is one of the scariest things happening this spooky season.

From March 2021 to March 2022, the U.S. experienced an almost 21% increase in CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI), which is the largest inflationary increase over a 12-month period since the index was created in 1976. The period between June 2021 and June 2022 also saw a 9.1% increase in the Consumer Price Index, the steepest rise since 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those numbers are giving most in the industry pause, especially coming off the booming, rapid-fire market of early 2021.

Is inflation scaring Americans off from buying their forever home?

According to a study by Mayflower®, Americans are still determined to make their move and find their perfect “forever” home.

The 2022 Mayflower “Finding Home” study shows that the cost of living (46%), affordable housing (40%) and inflation (33%) have the strongest influence on those looking to move. Unsurprisingly, the study showed that home buyers are feeling the effect of price increases, with 86% saying they think housing prices in the U.S. are too expensive.

However, when deciding to purchase a home, 81% think finding the perfect “forever” home is the most important factor. When spending that kind of money, they want to be in the home for a considerable amount of time and find the “perfect” fit for their family. We all know there is usually no such thing as a perfect home when considering budget and other constraints, but the good news is that buyers seem to realize this as well. Recent and future buyers are willing to create the perfect home, with 80% saying that even if the home they move into isn’t everything on their checklist, they’re willing to do the work to get it there.

Current buyers are tenacious, with Mayflower’s study finding that they continued to pursue buying their first home despite current inflation rates, even if it meant:

  • Receiving financial help (35%)
  • Changing expectations (34%)
  • Extending timelines (31%)

However, that doesn’t mean that homebuyers are proceeding as usual in the housing market. Inflation has also meant that buyers are more strategic with their planning, with approximately one-third of responders saying that current inflation levels meant they were much more likely to consider moving to a new area.

Buyers are looking for affordable, stable places to live. They’re looking for their partners in the home buying process, real estate agents, to help them explore more affordable areas and understand the benefits of more affordable communities.

The survey also found that finances are heavily influencing buyers when it comes to where they’re relocating – they’re willing to go farther to find the right job and the right cost of living:

  • Relocating to states for a higher rate of pay is on many buyers’ minds, with 35% saying they would relocate across states – Gen Z (41%), Millennials (47%), and Gen X (41%) are significantly more likely to strongly agree that they would move states for higher pay than Baby Boomers (12%).
  • Younger generations, including Millennials and Gen Z, are more likely to say inflation has influenced them to look for roommates than older generations.
  • Millennials are significantly more likely than other generations to say that they have felt the impact of inflation on their move in terms of finding affordable housing (74%) and placing a competitive bid (68%).
  • Buyers rate cost and affordability as the most important factors in purchasing a home, while personal preferences like having or not having roommates and quality of school systems are rated as less important.
  • 57% of Americans have cut back on discretionary spending due to the results of inflation.
  • Future buyers are cutting spending (60%) and working “side hustles” (42%) more than past movers, who note they have already moved to more affordable locations (30%) as a response to inflation.

What are homeowners’ financial concerns when they do buy a home?

Even a dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare if the proper steps aren’t taken when purchasing – and even if they are.

While 90% of homeowners opt for a home inspection according to a U.S. News & World report, 83% of homebuyers are still stressed about home ownership as a key financial decision. Beyond that, 69% also admit that they’ve experienced buyer’s remorse in the past, while 33% say they experience such feelings regularly.

New homeowners cited a number of factors that caused them stress. Repair costs are the most common concern, but home value and the cost of ownership also weigh on homeowners’ minds. Among their stressors:

  • 57% of recent buyers worry about home repair costs.
  • 45% worry about the value of their home declining.
  • 45% worry about their mortgage payment increasing.
  • 36% worry about whether they’ll eventually be able to resell their home.

Even if they feel financially sound after purchasing a home, many recent homebuyers say they are worried about the safety and security of their property:

  • 59% worry about home break-ins.
  • 52% worry about home fires.
  • 49% worry about home flooding.
  • 37% worry about earthquake damage.

While damages from break-ins and fires are most likely covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy, recent homebuyers are also concerned about climate change and natural disasters – nearly three in four (74%). Floods and earthquakes, natural events trending more severe due to climate change, usually require a separate coverage endorsement or a separate policy.

Homebuyers are right to be concerned, because whether it’s routine maintenance or emergency repairs, sooner or later homeowners will have to make fixes to their home.

Of those surveyed, 86% of recent homeowners say they have had at least one home repair to address since moving in, while 14% say they have not experienced any repair issues. The top three home repairs are:

  • Plumbing issues (35%).
  • HVAC issues (34%).
  • Electrical wiring issues (33%)

Other common repair issues include roof damage, poor insulation, and structural problems. Even in the best of economic times, home repairs can be expensive, and when you factor in rising inflation and continued material shortages some recent homeowners have had to reassess their home repair plans.

Does the “Dream Home” exist?

If it does, current homebuyers are still determined to find it. Home buyers and their realtors are expanding their horizons and doing extra due diligence when it comes to finding the perfect dream home.

Once finding your dream home, you’ll want only the best possible moving team to help you settle in. The Suddath team can help you with any local, long-distance or international moving need.