Recently, CivicScience took a look at trends in home improvement, only to find that homeowners are generally moving full steam ahead with their intended projects and renovations. As the data show, it is likely that spending more time at home over the last year has made people want to change something about their spaces. 

However, when zooming out, we find that the home ownership aspect of the economy may be faring a little differently through the strains of the pandemic. 

Ninety-six percent of U.S. adults are not likely at all to buy a new property in the next 30 days. The reasons for this are obvious: the pandemic economy has been particularly brutal for many, and the expense of purchasing a new home might be too much to chew. 

Despite this, close to half of the general U.S. population (45%) still believes that it is a good time to buy, even given the state of the economy. 

As with most things related to the economy, income and age are likely prevailing factors. 

As you might have been able to guess, the younger a person, the more negative his or her outlook on the home-buying economy. The obvious connection here is that since younger people generally make less money, and overall income has been dropping since the beginning of last year, property ownership has moved just out of reach for many.

Interestingly, the financial strain of the economy may have had an impact on the importance people have placed on the amount of money they put down when buying a property.

Over half of all respondents would put down at least 20% on a property, with half of those budgeting for over 30%. And if you’re wondering, yes, this is linked to overall household income, but in a surprising way.

While the wealthiest respondents are the most likely to put down more than 30% on a home or property, the next most likely are those earning under $25,000 annually. Perhaps this indicates an inherently similar fiscal mindset shared by both the highest and lowest earners. 

This trend also mirrors the attitudes towards the classic sentiment around property ownership as part of the “American dream.”

Although 63% of U.S. adults perceive owning a home as part of the American dream, that sentiment breaks down among age and income brackets.

The idea trends among older Americans, and decreases as age decreases. And once again, that sentiment is echoed by income, where the lowest earners have the least attachment to the idea that property ownership is the American dream. 

Intent to Own

Apart from all that, the data also demonstrates that regardless of current living situation, a majority (55%) are more likely to buy their next place, whenever they do decide to move from their current residence. 

And while the relationship between likelihood to rent or buy next is clearly correlated to household income, when we cross the data with age, we see something interesting. 

While nearly half (45%) of the youngest respondents report being more likely to rent when they move from their current residence, every other age bracket beyond that is nearly even with each other, hovering around only one-quarter of respondents being more likely to rent. The age bracket of 30- to 44-year-olds leads all groupings with likelihood to buy their next place (62%), implying that despite being the group with the second largest subset that doesn’t believe owning a home is part of the American dream (35% reported “no”), they still have the at-large desire to do so. 

Of course, buying a home requires time, money, and the biggest thing of all, credit. While it’s commonly known that younger people tend to have less good credit than their older counterparts, what’s less commonly known is the process of rent-to-buy, which often doesn’t have the same credit requirements. The only problem is that almost no one has done this, or is interested in it. 

While more in-depth research needs to be done on the intricacies of home ownership and home buying in a pandemic economy, trends continue to demonstrate a potential economic domino effect across age and income demographics.