Experiences & Barriers of Prospective Home Buyers: Member Study

Cover of the Experiences & Barriers of Prospective Home Buyers: Member Study

Barriers to Purchasing Homes

For all questions in the survey, respondents were asked to refer to the latest buyer they have worked with who has not yet purchased a home. One-third (34%) of REALTORS® report that the main reason this buyer has not yet purchased is that there are not enough available homes for purchase in their budget. Almost one in five (18%) say their buyer is waiting for mortgage rates to drop, as higher prices are affecting affordability. Nine percent say their buyer is waiting for prices to drop. These are the same top three reasons uncovered in the concurrent 2023 REALTORS® Experiences and Barriers of Prospective Homebuyers Across Races/Ethnicities conducted for NAR by Morning Consult.*

In this study, consumers report that the number one reason they have not yet purchased is that they are waiting for prices to drop, followed by waiting for mortgage rates to drop/higher mortgage rates are affecting affordability, with not enough available homes in their budget coming in third. These differences could be explained by the fact that these three factors are heavily intertwined: lack of inventory is driving up prices, and higher mortgage rates are affecting what consumers can afford. The additional reasons that home buyers have not yet purchased are similar to the main reasons among both groups, although, again, members are most likely to cite not enough homes available for purchase in their buyers’ budgets, with consumers most likely to say they are waiting for prices to drop.


Both studies show that large majorities of prospective home buyers have applied for and been approved for loans, with 77% of REALTORS® reporting this. REALTORS® report that only 6% of buyers apply for but are denied home loans. Consumers report this in somewhat higher numbers, which may be due to some of these consumers having been denied before working with a real estate agent. In both studies, low credit scores and insufficient down payments are most likely to be the reasons they were not approved.

Majorities of buyers have considered conventional loans: 68% of REALTORS® report that their latest buyers have considered these, and consumers echo this. Over one-third (38% of REALTORS®’ latest buyers have considered FHA loans. Both studies show that African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latino(a) buyers are more likely than White and AAPI buyers to have considered these. Eight percent of REALTORS®’ buyer clients have considered VA loans. About one-fourth of consumers say they do not qualify for FHA or VA loan financing options, slightly higher than the 20% of REALTORS® who say that their latest buyer does not qualify for them. One-fifth of each of REALTORS®’ buyer clients have not considered these loan types either because they do not want to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) (21%) or they are worried their offers will be less competitive with these options (19%).

Down Payments and Down Payment Assistance

Just over half of REALTORS® (53%) say that at least one issue is holding their latest buyer back from saving a competitive downpayment. Just under one-quarter (23%) report that current rent or mortgage payments are holding the buyer back; 17% report credit card balances or payments. Twelve percent cite student loan debt; 11% cite car loans. This is in line with the consumer study: prospective home buyers across races and ethnicities who need to save a downpayment cite these same issues and in similar proportions.

Despite these issues, only 23% of REALTORS® say that their buyers facing these challenges have applied for down payment assistance programs. This is even lower among consumers, about one-third of whom say they were not even aware of these programs. Meanwhile, only 12% of REALTORS® say their buyers were unaware of them since a REALTOR® is highly likely to communicate these options to their clients. Among REALTORS® who say their buyer was aware of these programs, almost one-third (30%) report that the buyer’s income was too high. One-fifth (19%) say they did not know enough about the programs, and 17% are worried about the competitiveness of their offers in multiple bid situations. Meanwhile, the primary reason that consumers say they did not apply to down payment assistance programs is that they did not know enough about them. So there is an opportunity for REALTORS® to educate their clients in this area.

Property Types

Seventy-one percent of REALTORS® say their most recent buyer is determining the location of their next home based on the location of their job or the job of someone in their household - typically 30 minutes or less in driving distance. This is generally in line with the consumer study, although the typical consumer narrows this distance to 25 minutes or less.

Half (49%) of REALTORS®’ buyers have no preference between a previously-owned home and new construction. Forty-one percent prefer a previously-owned home; only 7% prefer new construction. While consumers are most likely to prefer previously-owned homes or to say they have no preference, the consumer study is more likely to show a preference for new construction, with about one-quarter reporting this.

Large majorities in both studies say these buyers plan to buy primary residences: REALTORS® report that 89% of their latest buyers are purchasing these. Six percent plan to buy investment properties, 5% plan to purchase vacation/second homes, and 4% plan for multigenerational homes.


Only 1% of REALTORS® report that their buyer experienced discrimination during the home buying process, while 13% are not sure. Those reporting discrimination are most likely to say this is based on race or ethnicity and lay this at the feet of lenders, saying the buyer experienced this in the type of loan product offered (43%) or that the buyer did not receive a call back from lender(s) (29%). In contrast, in the consumer study, about one in six prospective home buyers say they have experienced discrimination during their home buying process, with more than half of Black, Asian, and Hispanic buyers reporting that this was due to their race or ethnicity. White buyers are equally likely to report discrimination but are more likely than others to say this was based on factors other than race or ethnicity. Based on both studies, most of this discrimination goes unreported.

Consumers experiencing discrimination were most likely to report that this manifested in their being steered towards or away from specific neighborhoods and in stricter requirements. These experiences are reflected as well in the 2023 Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America, where, among successful buyers, 50% of Hispanic/Latino(a), 29% of White, and 12% of African-American/Black buyers reported experiencing steering, and 12% of African-American/Black, 17% of AAPI, and 24% of White buyers reported stricter requirements. In order to identify, prevent and address discriminatory practices in real estate like steering, NAR offers resources to its members, such as Fair Haven: A Virtual Simulation, a Bias Override Training course, an At Home With Diversity certification course, and DEI and Fair Housing Self-Study Modules for REALTORS®.

*Please see 2023 REALTORS® Experiences and Barriers of Prospective Homebuyers Across Races/Ethnicities at https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports

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