First-Time Homebuying: Attitudes and Behaviors of Low-Income Renters Through the Financial Crisis

Housing StudiesIn this article published in Housing Studies, Mark Lindblad, Hye-Sung Han, Siyun Yu and William M. Rohe use psychological theory to investigate how attitudes toward homebuying relate to first-time home purchases over the past decade.

Homeownership rates in the US have dropped to 20-year lows, but whether views toward homebuying shifted due to the financial crisis is not known because studies have not compared attitudes for the same respondents pre- and post-crisis. The authors address this gap with 2004–2014 panel data from low-income renters. They found that a negative shift in homebuying attitudes is associated with a decline in first-time home purchases. Older renters aged more than 35 years at baseline report the greatest declines in homebuying intentions. Younger renters aged 18–34 also report diminished homebuying intentions, yet express highest overall levels of homebuying intentions pre- and post-crisis. Blacks report greater homebuying intentions although their odds of home purchase are 29 percent lower than whites. Homebuying norms and favorability are associated with homebuying intentions but not with actual purchases, while perceived control over homebuying influences both outcomes.

Mark Lindblad is a research fellow at the UNC Center for Community Capital. Hye-Sung Han is an assistant professor in urban affairs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (and a Ph.D. graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill). Siyun Yu was awarded her Ph.D. in statistics and operations research at UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2017. William M. Rohe is director of the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor in the department of city and regional planning at UNC-Chapel Hill.