A survey just out from Fannie Mae paints a picture of a post-recession America where the overwhelming majority of Americans--despite the real estate downturn and sub-prime mortgage-caused housing market crash--still want to own a home, but are far more cautious than they once were.
Fannie Mae's national survey of more than three thousand people revealed that two thirds of Americans, or 65%, prefer owning a home, though a quarter of those polled said they will make their home purchase later than they once had planned to.
"Despite the recent downturn in the housing sector, Americans continue to value home ownership and think about their homes in ways that go much deeper than the financial investment, " says Fannie Mae President and CEO Mike Williams, in a news release posted on Fannie Mae's website. "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."
Seeing this apparent new cautious approach as an overall positive, Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's chief economist, says consumers "are rebalancing their attitudes toward housing and home ownership by adopting a more realistic, long term approach, and are less willing to take risks. This focus on sustainable housing is better for the economy, better for the housing market and better for America's families."
According to Fannie Mae, these are among the key findings:
Eight in 10 respondents consider home ownership important to the economy;
Only 31% think that the economy is on the right track;
But 44% expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next year.
Interestingly, even though housing values have declined considerably in almost all parts of the nation (and, for the most part, this general decline continues in many markets), seven out of 10 respondents, or 70%, said they believe buying a home continues to be one of the safest investments available.
As might be expected, homeowners with 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages are much more satisfied with home ownership than those with more exotic, but far less stable, types of mortgages: 93% of those with 30-year fixed are satisfied as compared to 76% of those who have hybrid Adjustable Rate Mortgages and 68% of those with more conventional ARMs.
Lenders should take heart: According to Fannie Mae's survey, nearly nine in 10 Americans (including seven in 10 who are already delinquent on their own mortgages) do not believe it is acceptable for people to stop making payments on an underwater mortgage (when the value of the home is lower than the value of the mortgage).
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate related issues for several years.++
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