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Americans Prefer Owning a Home to Renting

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We still aspire to be home owners, not renters.

Despite the recent housing crisis, most Americans continue to believe that owning their home is preferable to renting it, according to Fannie Mae’s quarterly National Housing Survey.

And while financial challenges and worries about unemployment are keeping potential home buyers on the sidelines, a strong employment picture, a run-up in interest rates, and stabilizing home prices will push more Americans toward home ownership in coming years.

The survey found:

  • Across all education levels and demographic groups, Americans say owning makes more sense than renting.
  • Nearly two-thirds of current renters plan to become home owners some day.
  • Safety and school quality continue to be the top reasons for buying a home across all income groups.
  • African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to cite various home ownership benefits including wealth-building, personal success, and civic benefits.

“In spite of the impact of the housing crisis on home values and home ownership rates across the country, Americans by and large still hope to become home owners,” said Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. “Some may not be financially positioned to own a home in the near future, but Americans may begin to revisit that aspiration as employment and household balance sheets improve over the coming years.”

Attitudes about home ownership as an investment, financial constraints, and a lack of mortgages may keep Americans from becoming home owners in the years ahead, potentially leading to lower home ownership rates nationally.

  • The margin of Americans believing home ownership has the highest investment potential has declined over the past several years.
  • At the same time, the perceived safety of owning a home as an investment has trended downward, reaching a low of 63% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
  • In turn, groups with higher levels of education and higher incomes are more likely to think buying a home is a safe investment.

Source: Fannie Mae via NAR’s houselogic

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