Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Buying a Home? Not in This Economy - 05.25.2021 house prices cartoon  1

According to a new poll, a record low share of Americans say it’s a good time to buy a house. In just a year, this share has dropped from 53% to 30%. (Gallup)

NH: When asked last month, just 30% of Americans said that it’s a good time to buy a house.

Gallup has been asking this question since 1978, and the answer has never been below 50%. This figure has tumbled 23 percentage points since last year.

Not surprisingly, people’s answers tend to track the state of the housing market. In the early 2000s, as U.S. homeownership climbed to an all-time high, fully 81% of respondents thought it was a good time to buy a home.

After the Great Recession hit, only 53% agreed. But this was still 20 percentage points higher than the current figure.

Buying a Home? Not in This Economy - May7 1

So why is Americans' outlook so bleak? They figure that housing prices already soared to record highs amid tight supply--but may not rise any higher. And worse, they've noticed that mortgage rates have climbed to their highest rates in over a decade.

Meanwhile, inflation is eroding buying power.

Since 2011, Gallup has also asked respondents to rank five investment options: real estate, stocks, gold, savings accounts, and bonds.

The latest results for this survey reveal something of a gruesome paradox. That share of Americans who now consider real estate the best investment has climbed to a record high (45%).

No wonder Americans are feeling dour. A record share think that housing is their best investment bet at the same time that a record share think this is a terrible time to buy a home.

Conclusion: The prospects of all their other investment options must be looking dismal indeed!

Buying a Home? Not in This Economy - May7 2

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Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.