Move-Up Home Buyers are Stuck in Neutral

Written by: Steve Cook   Thu, October 1, 2009 Beyond Today's News, Consumer Report

More renters became homeowners last month but fewer existing homeowners moved up to more desirable homes or neighborhoods even though they acknowledge current home prices are a good value, according to an industry-sponsored survey.

Most potential move-up buyers believe homes are more affordable today than in recent months and 69 percent believe the economy is improving.  Yet only 26 percent said they have taken advantage of more affordable prices to move to a bigger house or neighborhood this year, a decline of 24 percentage points from a similar survey in June.

The survey found that the number of renters purchasing a home increased by 3 points in September. Compared to June, more respondents said they were moving for career-related reasons-to begin college, or start a new job-which is likely more due to seasonal trends than the economy. Greater value, lower mortgage interest rates and the first-time home buyers’ tax credit were cited as reasons renters are more likely to buy.

“In past years, we’d see the number of people moving into new homes calming down toward end of year,” noted Sharon Asher, chairman and founder,  “But this year has been singular in so many ways, it’s possible we may see something different. We’ll be tracking closely to see if buyers are moving into new homes for the holidays.”’s June survey found 50 percent of recent buyers did so to improve their living situation, either to move into a bigger home or a better neighborhood, a dramatic reversal from a similar survey in March 2009 that found the recession played a much larger role in the decision to move.

The June survey found that the primary reason to move was to move up to a bigger or better home (26 percent), followed by living in a better neighborhood or area (24 percent); to be closer to family/friends (12 percent); living in an area with a lower cost of living (9 percent); or a move that was sparked by a change in marital status (6 percent). Moving because of school, job loss, retirement or foreclosure each garnered 3 percent or less.

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