Consumer and Home Design TrendsDemographics

Reasons for Moving Have Shifted Dramatically

Chris Porter photo

Chris Porter

December 15, 2011
People buy homes for many different reasons, and the mix of reasons has shifted lately. Family-related reasons, such as marriage or divorce, is an increasing percentage, while the desire for homeownership is a decreasing percentage of home buyers. This supports our forecast for 62% homeownership.
Better housing – better quality homes, safer neighborhoods, the desire for homeownership, or some other housing-related factor – is still the number one reason, but the percentage moving for “housing-related” reasons has steadily declined from 59% in 2003 to 43%, according to the Census Bureau.
Look at the dramatic decline in “housing-related” reasons for buying, while “family-related” reasons have increased.
Since the majority of buyers still purchase for “housing-related” reasons, we delved deeper into the data. The importance of homeownership as the primary motivator is declining. Just one-third of “housing-related” buyers said it was because they desired to own as opposed to rent – down from nearly one-half in 2001. Conversely, a growing percentage of buyers cited “wanted cheaper housing,” which is clearly because rents exceed mortgage payments in so many markets around the country. In our view, these buyers are the smart ones who are defying the conventional wisdom of their friends and making great long-term decisions.
Throughout the last decade, the desire for a new or better home has remained strong. Buyers told us the same in our own 2011 Consumer Insights survey, stating that design, style and the ability to personalize their home are significant reasons in their decision to buy. With the general view that prices and mortgage rates are more likely to get better than worse, many buyers are staying on the sidelines. When they can say, “We should have bought 6 months ago,” we expect the pent-up demand to begin to unleash.
We just closed our 2012 Consumer Insights survey, with more than 14,000 participants answering more than 80 questions! Once we get the data analyzed, we will have tremendous insight into buyer preferences and motivations.

Building Market Intelligence™

Every week, we deliver analysis to over 40,000 subscribers with our Building Market Intelligence™ newsletter. Subscribe to our weekly BMI newsletters to stay current on pressing topics in the housing industry.

About The Author

Chris Porter photo
Chris Porter
Senior Vice President, Chief Demographer
Chris brings clarity to JBREC’s clients on demographic trends and translates their impact on local housing markets. He also analyzes and compares local housing market metrics in JBREC’s Metro Analysis and Forecast and Regional Analysis and Forecast monthly reports.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about our services or if you would like to speak to one of our experts about we can help your business, please contact Client Relations at

Products and Services Mentioned

green check icon

Research Membership

Our research services enable our clients to gauge housing market conditions and better align their business and strategic investments in the housing industry. We provide a thoughtful and unique holistic approach of both quantitative and qualitative analysis to help clients make informed housing investment decisions.
green check icon

Real Estate Consulting

Our experienced team of consultants helps clients make sound housing investment decisions. We thrive on their success and work with many clients over multiple years and numerous projects.
green check icon

New Home Trends Institute

The New Home Trends Institute pairs design inspiration with exclusive insights into the “why” behind consumers’ housing choices. Gain exclusive insight into housing preferences and pain points through our monthly survey insights reports, webinars, and proprietary surveys of builders, architects, designers, and other industry professionals.

Latest Insights

2024 Mid-year Review: Economy and Housing in the Sweet Spot
Dear Consultant: Will BTR Rent Growth Outpace Apartment Rent Growth Over Time?
The Death of the Hallway (and Other Design Trends)