For crying out loud: survey says most US home buyers moved to tears in today's market

The crying game: House-hunting can bring out the tears, survey says

For many, purchasing a home is the American dream. But the road to homeownership can be so draining that it moves many to tears, according to a study by Zillow.

The real estate website found that half of U.S. homebuyers cry at least once during the exhaustive process. Additionally, almost 90% of recent buyers surveyed said at least one aspect of buying a home proved stressful.

Zillow surveyed about 2,000 Americans who either bought or intended to buy a house in the past two years as housing costs became – and remains – at a premium.

What replaced the tears of joy that can come when purchasing a house? Zillow found that about 62% of potential homebuyers were stressed about being able to find a home within their budget; about 61% were stressed about not having enough houses to choose from; and 58% were stressed about finding a home in their desired neighborhood.

"I think we were surprised by the share of recent buyers who said they cried at least once, as there were some who cried at least five times while looking for a home," Zillow home trends expert Amanda Pendleton told USA TODAY.

The Zillow survey comes at a time when the median sales price of homes in the U.S. reportedly reached a record $428,000 in the first quarter of this year and the 30-year fixed mortgages soared above 5%.

Zillow said nearly half of all homes sold in the U.S. in April sold for over the asking price, a 37% increase from a year ago. Kleenex anyone?

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This demographic cries most over homebuying 

It turns out that Gen Z and millennials – many seeking to become first-time homebuyers  – are far more likely to cry at least once during their journey, the Zillow survey said. 

More than 65% of Gen Z buyers, those in their 20s and 30s, and 61% of millennial buyers, those in their 30s and 40s, cried at least once when trying to buy a home, Zillow said.

Further, 44% of Gen Z buyers surveyed say they cried two to four times. Millennial buyers are slightly ahead at 45%

Millennials are now the largest group of homebuyers, making up 37% of the overall share in 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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Some families cannot compete with all-cash home buyers

Losing a home to the all-cash offers that are more popular in the seller's market also is bringing some would-be buyers to tears, the survey showed.

Almost 30% of recent homebuyers surveyed said they've lost out to an all-cash buyer at least once, according to Zillow.

"Emotionally challenging," is how Pendleton describes the loss.

"You've gotten through the process of submitting an offer and you envision yourself being in that home, decorating the nursery, and you've picked out the window treatments you were going to put in the dining room " Pendleton said. "And then – poof – it’s gone in two days due to a higher bidder or an all-cash deal.

"Your dreams you had for you and your family are gone, and you have to start from scratch. Your energy and emotions are zapped."

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Buyers aren't getting a break anytime soon

With inventory remaining low and demand relatively high, most houses easily get multiple offers, Pendleton said. She added that about half of the homes for sale sell for more than their listing price, citing Zillow's most recent Consumer Housing Trends Report.

About 7 in 10 homes sold for more than the asking price in March, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

"The real cultural shift is now instead of wrapping our lives around work, we are now wrapping them around our homes," Pendleton said. "Our space is more valuable than ever."

And as a result, 60% of sellers report getting at least two offers on their home, and houses can be off the market within at least two days of listing, Pendleton said. Zillow estimates they're about 23% fewer homes on the market compared with last year.

But there are some signs that homebuying may ease in the coming months because the Federal Reserve rate increases to control inflation are starting to affect the market, experts say.

"The competition will get less intense," Pendleton said. "But buyers aren’t getting a break anytime soon."

Follow Terry Collins on Twitter at @terryscollins