Survey Reveals Consumer Sentiments About Homeownership

A new national survey gauging attitudes toward housing finds that nearly 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, conducted between December 2009 and January 2010, 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.

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.

‘Consumers are still committed to owning a home, but are showing increased cautiousness, regardless of whether they rent, own their homes outright or have a mortgage,’ says Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. ‘They are rebalancing their attitudes toward housing and homeownership by adopting a more realistic, long-term approach, and are less willing to take risks."

A majority of consumers (60%) believe that buying a home today is harder than it was for their parents, and nearly seven in 10 (68%) think it will be even more difficult for their children. Most respondents (88%) also believe that walking away from an underwater mortgage is not acceptable, but those who know someone who has defaulted are more than twice as likely to have seriously considered stopping payments on their mortgage.

When asked if financial distress makes stopping payments on an underwater mortgage acceptable, 15% of respondents said yes – or nearly double the 8% who believe it is acceptable generally.

Only 31% of respondents think that the economy is on the right track, but 44% expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next year, with delinquent borrowers are even more optimistic about the future. Sixty-three percent of delinquent borrowers expect they will be in a stronger financial position in the next year.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents think it is a good time to buy a house, and nearly one in three think now is a very good time to buy a house. This is nearly as many who said it was a good time to buy in 2003, well before home prices peaked, Fannie Mae explains.

SOURCE: Fannie Mae


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