Americans Still Want to Own a Home, but Are More Cautious



WASHINGTON — April 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


More Cautious Approach among

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


  • Eight
    in ten respondents consider homeownership important to the economy.
  • Only 31 percent
    think that the economy is on the right track, but 44 percent expect their
    personal financial situation to improve in the next year. Delinquent borrowers
    are even more optimistic about the future, with 63 percent expecting they will
    be in a stronger financial position in the next year.
  • Nearly two-thirds
    of respondents (64 percent) think it is a good time to buy a house, and nearly
    one in three (31 percent) 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 (66 percent),
    well before home prices peaked.
  • Nearly
    three-quarters (73 percent) think housing prices will go up or stay the same
    over the next year, including 37 percent who think prices will increase and 36
    percent who feel prices will remain about the same.


Desirability of

  • Seven out of ten respondents
    (70 percent) said they believe buying a home continues to be one of the safest
    investments available. This compares to 74 percent who think putting money
    into a bank account (money market or savings account) is safe. In contrast,
    only 17 percent believe buying stocks is a safe investment.
  •  Nearly
    two-thirds (65 percent) of survey respondents prefer owning to renting, citing
    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 economic
  •  Americans
    with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are significantly more satisfied (93
    percent) than those with other types of mortgages (76 percent for those with
    hybrid ARMs and 68 percent for those with ARMs).


Challenges Facing

  • Most respondents (60 percent)
    believe it is harder for them to get a mortgage in order to purchase a home
    than their parents. Nearly seven in ten (68 percent) think it will be harder
    for the next generation.
  •  Survey
    respondents cited poor credit (22 percent), their income (19 percent), job
    security (15 percent) and having enough for a down payment (also 15 percent)
    as the top obstacles to obtaining a home loan.
  •  The majority
    (76 percent) expressed some degree of confidence that they would receive the
    information they need to choose the right loan if they bought or refinanced a
    home today, although only 47 percent said they are “very confident.”


For more information about the
survey, visit

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