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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Changing home buying patterns

“Change your thoughts, and you change your world.” (Norman Vincent Peale), from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Peale was talking about changing from pessimism to optimism as a way to change your life. From a recent news feed about the results of a poll by Harris, it would appear that home buyers are changing their thoughts about what they want in a new home and when they can afford to buy it.

The Harris interactive poll commissioned by reveals that potential home buyers value "green" building features more than luxury amenities. When given the choice of features like solar energy panels or energy-saving appliances, a whopping 49 percent considered them important, while only 31 percent rated luxury amenities as important. This could be the result of the weight of the Gen-X and Gen-Yers kicking in to overcome the “me first” attitudes of the Baby Boomer generation.

The survey also revealed that rating the neighborhood they might choose would depend largely on two major factors: crime rates and proximity to work. Somewhat flip-flopping the mindset of home buyers even just a few years ago, more respondents in the survey admitted that they were willing cut personal spending and sacrifice some comfort to be able to afford a home. As few as 6 percent would, however, be willing to give up their proximity to shopping and a meager 3 percent would give up their proximity to public transportation.

Even though these statistics are telling, the survey also found that a large majority of potential home buyers -- 81 percent -- say they are facing considerable financial obstacles in purchasing a home, including high prices, a marked uneasiness with the economy, and income concerns as well. That is reflected in the almost total stoppage of the “move-up” market locally, where the homes in the above $300,000 range are languishing. Those homes have in the past been purchased by workers who were getting promotions and moving up in life. These days just staying afloat is the goal of most. Don’t even mention moving up.

The underlying current from the survey, however, is strong in the long run, with almost half of the respondents expecting conditions for buying a home to improve after the election, 44 percent admitting they would like to purchase a different house and 47 percent wishing to do so within the next five years. I for one wish that they would do something, too.

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