Thursday, November 4, 2010

MARKET TRENDS: Worries about paying the mortgage on rise, poll says

WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans say they are worried about making their mortgage or rent payments, underscoring the extent of economic anxiety in the country.

A Washington Post poll shows that concerns about housing payments have spiked since 2008, despite some improvements in the overall economy. In all, 53 percent said they are “very concerned’’ or “somewhat concerned’’ about having the money to make their monthly payment.

In December 2008, 37 percent were somewhat or very concerned.

Seventy percent of renters are concerned, compared with 46 percent of homeowners.

Worries are the most intense among those with lower incomes and African Americans.

“The unemployment rate is still very very high, so if you think of it as being about the odds of someone losing their job and not being able to find another there’s good reason to be concerned about being able to make mortgage payments,’’ said Karen Dynan, who worked on President George W. Bush’s council of economic advisers and now is co-director of economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

Just over half of Americans say the Obama administration should impose a period of time during which banks cannot foreclose on delinquent homeowners. The White House has rejected that idea.

The White House has found itself disagreeing not just with a majority of Americans, but nearly two-thirds of Democrats. Independents also slightly favor a national freeze; Republicans are divided down the middle.

Momentum for a national freeze grew in early October after several major lenders, including Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Ally Financial, admitted they had found errors in the documents they used to foreclose on borrowers.

The poll was conducted Oct. 21-24 with 1,006 adults; the margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Washington Post October 28, 2010

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