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Experts: First-Time Homebuyers' Weak Finances Holding Back Housing Market

Among the more than 100 experts surveyed in the Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, a majority said they don't expect the housing market to normalize for at least three more years.

- More than 100 expert panelists predict that U.S. home values will end 2014 up an average of 4.8 percent from 2013, to a median value of $176,760.

- On average, respondents said they expect home values to exceed their pre-recession peak in February 2018.

- In the longer term, respondents are most concerned by low household formation rates, would-be first-time buyers in a weak financial position and demographic changes that are affecting the housing market.[i]

Nov 11, 2014

SEATTLE, Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Shifting demographics and would-be first-time homebuyers financially ill-prepared to buy will continue to hold back the housing market over the next several years, according to the latest Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey. 

Despite these hurdles, nearly all of the 107 panelists surveyed said they expect the housing market to normalize within the next five years. The survey of economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists asked panelists to predict the path of the U.S. Zillow Home Value Index[ii] into 2019, and solicited opinions on what is holding back the housing market recovery and when it is expected to normalize[iii]. The survey was sponsored by leading real estate information marketplace Zillow, Inc. and is conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC.

The millennial generation is delaying home purchases – both for financial reasons, as high rents make it difficult to save, and because they are generally waiting longer to marry and have children. Because rent is so high, many renters are forced to find roommates to share the costs, and more than a third of U.S. adults are living with a roommate, up from a quarter in 2000[iv]. As a result, household formation rates are well below average, slowing the housing market's recovery.

Additionally, those near retirement age are staying in their homes longer rather than selling and downsizing or renting. Those two demographic factors are contributing to a falling homeownership rate and tighter than normal inventory levels, respectively, and are among the reasons experts say the market is being held back from a full recovery.

"We've reached a point in the recovery where the only real cure-all is time," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "The market remains very challenging for younger, first-time homebuyers who face an uphill battle saving for a down payment, qualifying for a mortgage and finding an affordable home to buy. At the same time, many older homeowners are trapped underwater or are unable to find buyers for their homes. But the landscape is slowly changing, as incomes begin to grow, negative equity fades and new households start to form. These shifts won't occur overnight, but they are happening. Patience will be a virtue over the next few years as we wait for these traditional fundamentals to more fully take hold in the market."

Asked when they expect the U.S. housing market to normalize, 30 percent of panelists said they expected the market to stabilize one to two years from now, and 40 percent said it would take 3-5 years. Almost 20 percent said they believe the market either already has returned to normal, or will in the next 12 months.

Panelists said they expect U.S. median home values to rise 4.8 percent in 2014, on average, to $176,760, and another 3.7 percent in 2015. Panelists said they expect national median home-prices to exceed $196,400 – their 2007 peak – in February 2018.

"The expert consensus calls for only a marginal increase in home values nationally for the remainder of 2014, and a leveling-off of annual increases through 2019," said Terry Loebs, founder of Pulsenomics. "The 3.7 percent average annual appreciation rate expected by the panel for 2015 represents a 20 percent drop from the rate expected for this year. Although this projected decline is significant, it's a less dramatic call compared to that made by our panelists one year ago, when they correctly anticipated a much larger change from 2013's 7.3 percent home value appreciation rate by projecting  4.3 percent for 2014."

About Zillow:
Zillow, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z) operates the largest home-related marketplaces on mobile and the Web, with a complementary portfolio of brands and products that help people find vital information about homes, and connect with the best local professionals. In addition, Zillow operates an industry-leading economics and analytics bureau led by Zillow's Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. Dr. Humphries and his team of economists and data analysts produce extensive housing data and research covering more than 450 markets at Zillow Real Estate Research. Zillow also sponsors the quarterly Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, which asks more than 100 leading economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists to predict the path of the Zillow Home Value Index over the next five years. Zillow also sponsors the bi-annual Zillow Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI) which measures consumer confidence in local housing markets, both currently and over time. The Zillow, Inc. portfolio includes®, Zillow Mobile, Zillow Mortgage MarketplaceZillow Rentals, Zillow Digs®, Postlets®, Diverse Solutions®, Agentfolio®, Mortech®, HotPads™,  StreetEasy® and Retsly™. The company is headquartered in Seattle., Zillow, Postlets, Mortech, Diverse Solutions, StreetEasy, Agentfolio and Digs are registered trademarks of Zillow, Inc. HotPads and Retsly are trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

About Pulsenomics:
Pulsenomics LLC ( is an independent research and consulting firm that specializes in data analytics, new product and index development for institutional clients in the financial and real estate arenas. Pulsenomics also designs and manages expert surveys and consumer polls to identify trends and expectations that are relevant to effective business management and monitoring economic health. Pulsenomics LLC is the author of The Home Price Expectations Survey™, The U.S. Housing Confidence Survey, and The U.S. Housing Confidence Index. Pulsenomics®, The Housing Confidence Index™, and The Housing Confidence Survey™ are trademarks of Pulsenomics LLC.

[i] Experts surveyed were asked what they expected to be the single most significant threat to the stability of the U.S. housing market in the longer-run (five or more years from now). Among those with an opinion, the top three responses were: Weak financial capacity among first-time homebuyers (28%), shifting demographics (27%), and a sluggish household formation rate (14%).

[ii] The Zillow Home Value Index is the median estimated home value for a given geographic area on a given day and includes the value of all single-family residences, condominiums and cooperatives, regardless of whether they sold within a given period. It is expressed in dollars, and seasonally adjusted.

[iii] This edition of the Home Price Expectations Survey was conducted from Oct. 20, 2014 through Nov. 3, 2014 by Pulsenomics LLC on behalf of Zillow, Inc.

[iv] Zillow defined a doubled-up household as one in which at least two working-age (23-65), unmarried or un-partnered adults live together. Data obtained from U.S. Census Bureau.

SOURCE Zillow, Inc.

For further information: Emily Heffter, Zillow, 206-757-2701 or