The Zillow Group Report, available for free in its entirety, surveyed more than 13,000 renters, homeowners, buyers and sellers about their home search, aspirations, and preferences.
More than half -- 54 percent -- of buyers do not get the first home on which they make an offer. First-time home buyers make up 47 percent of all buyers, so it's feasible for many potential buyers to keep their options open and return to renting if they aren't successful purchasing a home.
"The line between renting and buying is blurry, and that's a sign of the times," said Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Wacksman. "It's difficult and time-consuming to find a home to move to, especially in competitive housing markets. With first-time buyers competing for a limited number of homes on the market, savvy shoppers have a Plan B, hoping to buy if it works out, but willing to sign a lease for a home if they don't make a deal by the time they need to move."
Among those who bought a home in the last 12 months, 66 percent of Millennials considered renting as well. Just over half (54 percent) of Generation X buyers considered renting, and 32 percent of Baby Boomer buyers.
Younger renters are also more flexible when looking for a home to rent – 63 percent of Millennials and 59 percent of Generation X renters considered buying while looking for a rental. Among renters over 50, most did not consider buying at all.
Renters make up a larger group of the U.S. population than at any time in the last 50 years. Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the homeownership rate rose very slightly to 63.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016 – barely edging up from a 51-year low.
For many renters, buying is not a financial option. The median income of home buyers is $87,500 a year, while renters make, on average, $37,500. Low-income renters looking for a new home in a tight rental market can expect to spend an average of 12.1 weeks looking for a home, according to Zillow's analysis of survey responses and rental markets.
Zillow Group (NASDAQ: Z and ZG) houses a portfolio of the largest real estate and home-related brands on the Web and mobile. The company's brands focus on all stages of the home lifecycle: renting, buying, selling, financing and home improvement. Zillow Group is committed to empowering consumers with unparalleled data, inspiration and knowledge around homes, and connecting them with the right local professionals to help. The Zillow Group portfolio of consumer brands includes real estate and rental marketplaces Zillow®, Trulia®, StreetEasy®, HotPads® and Naked Apartments®. In addition, Zillow Group works with tens of thousands of real estate agents, lenders and rental professionals, helping maximize business opportunities and connect to millions of consumers. The company operates a number of business brands for real estate, rental and mortgage professionals, including Mortech®, dotloop®, Bridge Interactive™ and Retsly®. The company is headquartered in Seattle.
Zillow, Mortech, StreetEasy, Retsly and HotPads are registered trademarks of Zillow, Inc. Trulia is a registered trademark of Trulia, LLC. dotloop is a registered trademark of DotLoop, LLC. Naked Apartments® is a registered trademark of Naked Apartments, Inc. Bridge Interactive is a trademark of Bridge Interactive Group, LLC.
i Zillow looked at individual responses from renters surveyed as part of the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends about how much time they spent searching for their current rental unit. This data was combined with data on metro-level rental vacancy rates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 American Community Survey to explore how the search for a rental unit varies across income groups and across different types of housing markets.
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