As summer approaches, home buyers are getting more active. Of those looking to buy a home, nearly half have moved beyond the planning phase and are actively engaged in the process, according to the National Association of Homebuilders’ (NAHB) Rose Quint, contributing writer for the organization’s EyeOnHousing column. Active buyers’ numbers were actually slightly higher than in the first quarters of 2018 and 2019—both 46%. And Quint regards it as a possible sign that low-interest rates steered a few marginal buyers toward getting serious.

With millennials (54%) and Gen Z (51%) prospective buyers among the most likely to be actively looking for a home more than half of buyers planning a home purchase in the Northeast (56%) and West (52%) are actively engaged, compared to 45% in the Midwest and South, says Quint. Boomers follow at 43%.

Timing is everything, but in this case, it’s highly consequential, with Quint citing an online survey taking place from March 17 through March 28, the early stage of the COVID-19 crisis in the US.

“About 12 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the two weeks immediately after data collection closed,” Quint writes. “For this reason, we assess that responses in this quarter’s report mostly reflect people’s views prior to the full impact of stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions imposed by local and state governments.”

Buyers Spending More Time Searching for Homes

She also cites the results from the latest Housing Trends Report that show that the time active home buyers are spending searching for a home continues to rise.

“In the first quarter of 2020, 56% of actively engaged buyers reported having spent at least 3 months searching, compared to 53% a year earlier. This marks the fifth consecutive year-over-year gain in the share of active buyers who have spent upwards of 3 months looking for a home to buy.”

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