A Chase survey revealed nearly 4 in 10 potential first-time buyers lost income during the pandemic, setting back their homeownership goals.

Last year’s volatile housing market was discouraging for otherwise eager potential first-time homebuyers, according to a new survey.

First-time buyers have been budgeting, working on their credit scores and saving toward a down payment even as many have become less confident in their ability to secure their first house, according to the new report from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Notably, 37 percent of hopeful first-time buyers said they lost income during the pandemic, affecting the timing of their planned purchase.

“The events of the last year upended various aspects of our lives, including prospective homebuyers and their plans to purchase,” Sean Grzebin, head of consumer originations for Chase Home Lending, said in a news release. 

The banking giant’s findings were based on a survey of 1,100 people in mid-March who were actively preparing to buy their first home.

Despite some setbacks with regard to income, 60 percent of these prospective first-timers said they were likely to purchase sometime in the next year.

Survey respondents consistently pointed to larger living spaces and space for family as part of their reasoning for wanting to become homeowners. But in addition to these practical considerations, 69 percent said they saw homeownership as an important part of building wealth. This sentiment was even more prevalent in Black and Latino households.

Black and Latino households were also more likely than other groups to say the pandemic caused them to reconsider their financing options. These same groups were also likelier to say they expected to enjoy the homebuying process.

“Despite possible income changes and prolonged timelines, buying a home as a means to build wealth and stability still resonates with first-time homebuyers,” Grzebin said in the statement. “The research shows that they are also open to making lifestyle changes in order to reach their homeownership goals.”

This statement about lifestyle changes applies to the vast majority of potential first-time buyers surveyed. In addition to budgeting and improving their credit scores, more than 3 in 4 of these people were actively saving for a down payment, and about half said they were planning to research down-payment assistance programs. 

In the news release, Chase said it commissioned the study to better understand the needs of first-time buyers affected by the pandemic. They took a particular interest in buyer confidence, financial readiness and practical steps buyers were taking to propel themselves into homeownership.

Email Daniel Houston

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