Monday, April 19 2010
A new national survey gauging attitudes toward housing finds that two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) 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.
"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."
Survey Shows More Cautious Approach among Consumers
The survey revealed that homeowners and renters alike are taking a more cautious approach to homeownership. Nearly a quarter of renters polled (23 percent) 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 percent) and quality of local schools (33 percent) 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," said Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist, 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. This focus on sustainable housing is better for the economy, better for the housing market and better for America's families."
A majority of consumers (60 percent) believe that buying a home today is harder than it was for their parents, and nearly seven in ten (68 percent) think it will be even more difficult for their children. Most respondents (88 percent) 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.
Key Survey Findings
The following key findings illustrate broad consumer perspectives on a range of related issues, including: current attitudes toward the economy and housing; present conditions for homeownership; owning versus renting; the present climate for borrowing; current mortgage satisfaction; the impact of being "underwater" on borrowers; and attitudes toward defaulting. In some instances, data are compared to a 2003 study on housing by Fannie Mae.
Housing and the Economy
Desirability of Homeownership
Renters' Views on Renting and Homeownership
Challenges Facing Homeowners
Attitudes about Delinquency
From December 12, 2009 — January 12, 2010, Penn Schoen Berland, in partnership with Oliver Wyman, conducted 3,451 telephone interviews with Americans age 18 and older.
This included a random sample of 3,051 members of the general population, including 887 homeowners, 1,110 mortgage borrowers, 908 renters, and 338 underwater borrowers (those who report owing at least 5% more on their mortgage than their home is worth). The overall margin of error for the general population sample is +/- 1.77% and larger for subgroups.
An additional oversample of 400 random national delinquent borrowers was also polled. The margin of error for the delinquent oversample is +/- 4.9% and larger for subgroups. Delinquency was defined as not having made a mortgage payment in the past 60 or more days.
For more information about the survey, visit http://www.fanniemae.com/about/housing-survey.html