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Homebuyers Downbeat Ahead of Election

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As primary season wraps up, many homebuyers are pessimistic about the presidential election’s effect on the market, according to a new survey by real estate broker Redfin.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the election would have a negative effect on the housing market, up from 15% in a February survey.  

Sixty-three percent of homebuyers said the election would have no effect on the market, a 12 percentage point decline since February.

Redfin conducted its survey about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and election-year politics in mid-May among 975 homebuyers in 36 states and Washington, D.C. Forty percent were millennials, and some 37% were first-time buyers.

Trump is the presumed GOP candidate for president, and The Associated Press reported Monday that Clinton had enough delegates in her column to win the Democratic nod.

Mounting Anxiety

Some 200 survey respondents elaborated on their answers about the housing market, with most saying its direction would depend on November’s winner. Others doubted that the next president would be able to accomplish much.

One first-time buyer told Redfin: “With all the political infighting the country has had in the past, it is unlikely the new president will be able to soothe both sides immediately, and that may cause instability to the market.”

And many said the current candidates and political disharmony in Washington might give buyers second thoughts going into the November election.

What kind of thoughts?

Ten percent of respondents said they would consider leaving the country if their candidate lost the election. Among these, 2% said they would give serious thought to emigrating, and 1% said they would “absolutely” do so.

Another 30% said they might joke about leaving but would not actually do it.

Redfin found that buyers who said Sanders was the best candidate for housing were much likelier to consider leaving the country if he lost, and six times more inclined to do so than buyers who liked Trump’s housing policy.

“While homeowner anxiety over the election is clearly mounting, the likelihood of an immediate shock to the market is slim,” Redfin’s chief economist, Nela Richardson, said in a statement. “It will take considerable time for our next commander-in-chief to implement policies that have any impact on housing.”

Best for Housing?

In March, Redfin asked homebuyers which of 10 candidates still in the primary race would be best for the housing market. Sanders came out on top, followed by “someone else.”

Sellers picked someone else over Sanders and the other candidates.

In the latest poll, with only three candidates left standing, 28% of respondents said the housing market would be better served having someone other than Sanders, Clinton or Trump as president.

One millennial house hunter told Redfin she had not heard clear plans from the candidates about housing issues. The broker agreed, noting that the campaigns had said almost nothing about homeownership, mortgage credit or housing affordability.

Still, Sanders maintained an edge, with 26.5% of buyers saying he was the best candidate for housing. Redfin said these also were more likely to be first-time buyers worried about affordability and high rents.

Buyers cited Trump for his financial experience, and Clinton for her “pragmatism.”

Redfin said politics can determine housing affordability and how and where people live, and put forward six housing questions it said the presidential candidates should answer.

“The next president will inherit the lowest homeownership rate in 48 years and so far the voters have heard little to nothing about what the candidates will do to boost people’s chances of becoming homeowners,” Richardson said.

“Candidates need to start discussing housing on the campaign trail now.”


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