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American Dream Alive and Kickin' in New Trulia Survey

by Chicago Agent

American optimism ran high in Trulia's latest survey on homeownership.

Trulia today released the results of its latest American Dream survey, and it found that homeowner optimism has returned to the housing market in a major way.

The survey sampled a large swath of the U.S. population, with nearly 4,500 adults aged 18 and over being contacted by Harris Interactive.

The survey’s key findings included:

  • 72 percent of respondents said that owning a home is part of their personal American Dream, and 78 percent of renters surveyed aspire to purchase a home.
  • Asking prices increased quarter-over-quarter in 86 of the nation’s 100 largest metros in May.
  • Because of that, 61 percent of respondents feel home values in their local market will increase next year.
  • In an even more optimistic touch, 58 percent of respondents believe values will reach their boom-era highs in the next 10 years.
  • A big area where optimism can be seen is consumer attitudes on home sizes. Though home sizes in the post-boom era had decreased, 27 percent of respondents said their ideal home size is more than 2,600 square feet, up from 17 percent in 2011.

In an exclusive conference call on the survey that Chicago Agent attended, Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko said this level of optimism was nowhere to be seen when Trulia conducted its survey last year, and he attributed the rise in optimism to three main things:

  1. Foreclosures and delinquencies are both lower, down 24 percent from their peak.
  2. Home sales are recovering strongly, and are up 10 percent from last year and 23 percent above their low.
  3. Vacancy rates, one of the more troubling side effects of the downturn, have always improved in a major way, with rates for single-family homes down to 2006 levels and renting units down to 2002 levels.

With all those factors at play, Kolko said the newfound hope in the American consumer is no mystery.

“No wonder we’re seeing increased consumer optimism,” he said.

But though Trulia is seeing that optimism in droves (Kolko remarked a number of times during the call that homeowners may be too optimistic), real estate site HomeGain saw things a little differently with its own consumer survey. HomeGain found that 27 percent of homeowners expect home values to increase, an increase of 2 percent points from last quarter but a far cry from the 61 percent that Trulia found.

In fact, HomeGain’s data was very similar to Trulia’s, but from a much different perspective – HomeGain sampled 400 agents in addition to 1,700 consumers, and the optimism of the sampled agents was much higher than that of consumers, closely mirroring the views of Trulia’s consumers.

Trulia did sample 62 percent more respondents than HomeGain, so perhaps their results are a more accurate gauge of the current consumer mindset?

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