Renters Plot Their Next Move

Flickr: ShoobydoobyIt’s the big question — OK, the only question — in real estate: have we hit bottom?

Hard to say for sure, but recent data from a survey, coupled with recent economic data, indicate there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In our September survey, more renters took the plunge to become homeowners. Granted, it was modest: this group increased from 14% to 17% from the previous survey in June.

However, an increase is an increase, and although this group doesn’t get much press, it’s important for the health of our real estate market.

The ‘move up’ crowd gets a lot of attention in the housing market. These are the folks who own currently but are looking to move to a better home or better neighborhood. This group’s been basically frozen because they can’t sell their home, or get enough for their home, to move up to a new home.

That’s created a cascade effect that’s kept much of the market frozen. So if the renters get off the sidelines and start buying homes, which in turn frees up those sellers to buy a new home, that’s a great sign, and one that bears watching.

Other findings:

* 70% of respondents said homes are more affordable today than in recent months.

* 69% indicated they believe the economy is improving

* 19% cite declining home values as a primary reason for this improvement.

* 26% of survey respondents took advantage of these more affordable prices to move to a bigger house or neighborhood, down 24 percentage points from our June survey.

* Moving due to job loss or foreclosure stabilized at 7%.

* There’s been a 16% increase in respondents who said they hired a professional moving company, which may be another indication of an improving economy.

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