Despite economic strife and continued difficulties in the housing market, Americans continue to see homeownership as preferable to renting, according to Fannie Mae’s latest National Housing Survey.
A study involving 3,000 Americans that focuses on the state of homeownership aspirations in the U.S., Fannie’s fourth quarter survey concluded that with improving employment opportunities and finances, an increase in interest rates and stronger economic growth, prospective homebuyers may be swayed to enter the real estate market and purchase property. Doug Duncan, the vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae, said that even with the past few years of economic hardships, homeownership has not lost its glow for Americans.
“In spite of the impact of the housing crisis on home values and homeownership rates across the country, Americans by and large still hope to become homeowners,” Duncan said. “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.”
Fannie found that regardless of education levels, Americans believe that owning makes more sense than renting, and nearly two-thirds of renters aspire someday to own a house. Non-financial factors, such as schools and neighborhood safety, continue to be top reasons for homeownership, and African-Americans and Hispanics were more likely to see homeownership as a symbol of wealth, success and civic benefits.
The survey did find some problems, though, in how some buyers perceive the homeownership process. Renters, respondents of lower income levels, and the two aforementioned ethnic groups cited potential difficulties in getting a mortgage, with renters citing poor credit, the tough economy and the general complexity of the mortgage process as the main reasons they have not purchased a residence.
Duncan said that those areas of the survey represent an opportunity for agents, because if those trends continue, they could negatively impact the U.S.’ homeownership rate.
“A point of concern for the industry is that some consumers find the mortgage shopping process difficult to navigate,” Duncan said. “If potential homeowners avoid the process because they believe it to be too complex, we will likely see a continued impact on homeownership rates.”