Even as the aftermath of the housing crisis continues to show in the market, a new survey shows the vast majority of Americans still regard homeownership as a "highly desirable goal."
In findings released Tuesday, COUNTRY Financial revealed 89 percent of Americans in its most recent Security Index survey feel that buying a home is a key part of achieving the American Dream despite their recent memories of the crash.
Even more promising, 64 percent of respondents expressed belief that owning a home is an attainable goal for a typical middle-income family, a significant improvement over last year, when just 41 percent said the same.
"We're very encouraged that so many Americans feel optimistic about home ownership and view it as a realistic and achievable goal," said Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at COUNTRY Financial. "An improving economy and labor market might be helping to lift Americans' spirits and place buying a home closer within reach."
While the survey showed homeownership is an important goal for most correspondents regardless of age or income, it did reveal a generational split on opinions regarding whether or not that goal is achievable. Respondents among the ages of 30–39 and ages 50–64 were most likely to be negative in that regard, with 26 percent and 20 percent (respectively) saying owning a home is not an attainable goal for a middle-income family.
There was also an age division when it came to respondents' desire to own a home. Among non-homeowners, a quarter of those under age 30 and a fifth of those ages 50–64 said they have no interest in owning a home.
While some analysts have observed a culture shift away from homeownership among millennials, all age ranges have their own reasons to be reluctant, Buhrmann says.
"While nearly everyone pictures a home as the American Dream, reality often looks different," he said. "Younger Americans are more likely to reject the idea of homeownership. Yet, the financial challenges of buying a home can affect those of any age."
In fact, for those who don't own a home at the moment, the survey found financial limitations were some of the biggest hurdles: 14 percent cited a low credit score as their primary obstacle, while lack of down payment (13 percent) and local home prices (12 percent) were also commonly cited.
In its own housing survey released Monday, Wells Fargo found similar concerns about homebuying, with 30 percent of respondents saying only people with high incomes can get a mortgage right now and 64 percent saying only those with a very good credit score can qualify.
"It is important for prospective homebuyers to feel empowered to ask lenders and real estate agents questions about available options, such as down payment assistance or FHA [Federal Housing Administration] or VA [Veterans Affairs] loans for veterans," said Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Production. "Informing prospective homebuyers about their options is the first step toward helping them realize their goals."