Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BUYING & SELLING: 65% of Americans Still Want to Own a Home, Survey Says

A new national survey gauging attitudes toward housing finds that two-thirds of Americans (65%) still prefer owning a home, despite the challenging economic environment and the housing downturn.

The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polled homeowners and renters to assess their confidence in homeownership as an investment, the current state of their household finances, views on the U.S. housing finance system, and overall confidence in the economy.

“Despite the recent downturn in the housing sector, Americans continue to value homeownership and think about their homes in ways that go much deeper than the financial investment,” said Mike Williams, President and CEO, Fannie Mae. “The public also strongly believes in the importance of upholding the financial commitment involved in buying and owning a home, even during these challenging times when home values have fallen.”

Consumers cautious
The survey revealed that homeowners and renters alike are taking a more cautious approach to homeownership. Nearly a quarter of renters polled (23%) say they will buy a home later than once planned.

In addition, Americans with traditional, fixed-rate mortgages with predictable payments are significantly more satisfied than those with other types of mortgages.

Respondents cited non-financial reasons such as safety (43%) and quality of local schools (33%) as driving factors in wanting to own a home, ahead of financial considerations.

A majority of consumers (60%) believe that buying a home today is harder than it was for their parents, and nearly seven in ten (68%) think it will be even more difficult for their children.

Other findings from the survey: 
  • 80% of respondents consider homeownership important to the economy.
  • 73% think housing prices will go up or stay the same over the next year, including 37% who think prices will increase and 36% who feel prices will remain about the same.
  • 70% believe buying a home continues to be one of the safest investments available. This compares to 74% who think putting money into a bank account (money market or savings account) is safe. In contrast, only 17% believe buying stocks is a safe investment.
  • Americans with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are significantly more satisfied (93%) than those with other types of mortgages (76% for those with hybrid ARMs and 68% for those with ARMs).
  • 88%, including seven in ten who are delinquent on their own mortgages, do not believe it is acceptable for people to stop making payments on an underwater mortgage, while 8% believe it is acceptable.
However, when asked if financial distress makes stopping payments on an underwater mortgage acceptable, 15% of respondents said yes.
Both delinquent mortgage borrowers and those current on their mortgage payments are more than twice as likely to have seriously considered stopping their payments if they know someone who has already defaulted.

Source: Fannie Mae

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