Many renters who want to buy a home might not even try to because they fear that they won’t qualify for a mortgage, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded Monday after analyzing the results of a consumer sentiment poll.
The renters on average said they had a 63 percent chance of moving during the next three years, but only 44 percent would buy a home if they moved. Those who were reluctant to buy cited traditional reasons, including not enough savings or income. But a sizeable portion (41 percent) also said they were worried that their credit scores would not pass muster. (Note that the 344 renters surveyed could check more than one reason for not buying.)
As we wrote Sunday, lenders have shied away from extending mortgages to less-than-stellar borrowers in a bid to shield themselves from financial penalties and lawsuits. They’re demanding higher standards from borrowers seeking government-backed loans than even the government requires. And policy makers fear that the lack of access to credit is hurting the housing market’s recovery.
But even if the lenders were to ease their credit standards, it’s unclear whether many renters would bother to apply for a mortgage, according to researchers Andreas Fuster, Basit Zafar and Matthew Cocci. In their analysis, they concluded that many potential buyers with relatively low credit scores (meaning below 680 in this analysis) feel “discouraged,” convinced that they would not qualify for a loan.
Of course, if lenders eased up, perhaps consumer perceptions would change. But for now, about two-thirds of the renters surveyed said it would be somewhat or very difficult for them to get a mortgage. The chances of buying a home for those who think it would be tough to get a mortgage are about half what they would be for those 5 percent who think securing a loan would be easy, the analysis shows.
The results of a separate Fannie Mae survey released Monday also found that people are generally reluctant to buy. Of the 1,000 renters and homeonwners polled in August, 64 percent said it is not a good time to buy -- tying the low seen in November 2013. (The poll has been conducted monthly for about four years.) Fannie Mae's chief economist, Doug Duncan, said consumers are too worried about wages and the job market to commit to a home purchase. But access to credit frequently rises as a factor working against homeownership. Take a look at a Fannie's survey results for the second quarter:
The happy news coming out of the New York Fed's research is that most of the people surveyed, renters and homeowners alike, say that a home is a solid financial investment. The results challenge recent assertions that the desire to buy has faded due to a shift in preferences, particularly among the younger generation. About 60 percent of the people polled said buying a home in their Zip code is a sound investment.