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Americans Continue to Value Homeownership, Survey Shows

Although millions of families across the nation have been adversely affected by the foreclosure crisis, the majority of Americans still have a positive sentiment towards homeownership, ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/ found in its ""National Housing Survey."":http://www.fanniemae.com/media/pdf/2010/Housing-Survey-Fact-Sheet-040610.pdf

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The survey, conducted between December 2009 and January 2010, polled more than 3,000 homeowners and renters in order to gauge the public's current attitudes toward housing in light of the current foreclosure crisis. The results of the survey were released Tuesday, showing that the dream of homeownership hasn't died.

Americans' desire for homeownership was apparent throughout the survey, but owning a home is no longer seen as the safest financial investment. While 70 percent of respondents said they believe buying a home is a safe investment, 74 percent think putting money into money markets or savings accounts is safe. This was a switch from 2003 when 83 percent of respondents though buying a home was a safer investment than putting money into a banking account.

Regardless of investment safety, Fannie Mae found that 80 percent of survey respondents consider homeownership important to the economy. And 65 percent still prefer owning a home, despite the challenging economic environment and the housing downturn. 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.

""Despite the recent downturn in the housing sector, Americans continue to value homeownership and think

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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.""

More than half of the homeowners surveyed said they are making personal sacrifices to own their home, with 24 percent saying they are ""sacrificing a great deal."" Although homeownership can be difficult, 88 percent of respondents, including 70 percent who are delinquent on their own mortgages, said walking away from an underwater mortgage is not acceptable.

Most respondents--60 percent--believe buying a home today is harder than it was for their parents, and 68 percent think it will be even more difficult for their children. As for when to buy, 64 percent said now is a good time, and 31 percent think it 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, well before home prices peaked. Currently, home values are still low, but 37 percent of respondents think prices will increase over the next year. An additional 36 percent feel prices will remain about the same.

Although it may be a good time to buy, the survey revealed that homeowners and renters alike are taking a more cautious approach to homeownership. While 75 percent of renters polled believe that owning makes more sense than renting, 23 percent said they will buy a home later than once planned. In addition, the survey found that Americans with traditional, fixed-rate mortgages with predictable payments are significantly more satisfied that those with other types of mortgages.

""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, VP and chief economist of 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.""

About Author: Brittany Dunn

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