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Do Americans Value Their Cars More than Their Houses?

by Chicago Agent

A car, or a house? The choice of many consumers may surprise you.

Homeownership is often seen as the ultimate realization of the “American Dream.” Though the emotions behind that sentiment are still running strong, a recent report suggests that consumer spending habits may have different priorities, and that other big purchases now take precedent over homes when finances are concerned – namely, purchasing a car.

The report, which was conducted by credit monitoring firm TransUnion, uncovered several interesting nuances of consumer spending behaviors and how they prioritized among car loans, home loans and credit card loans in 2011:

  • 9.5 percent of those sampled were delinquent on their auto loans, but current on their credit cards and mortgages.
  • 17.3 percent, by contrast, were delinquent on their credit cards, but current on their mortgage and car payments.
  • 39.1 percent were delinquent on their mortgages, but up to date on their credit cards and auto loans.

The report analyzed four million consumers in each quarter of 2011, and in every quarter, it found that consumers preferred remaining current on their auto loans ahead of their credit cards and mortgages – which seems to suggest that in today’s economy, consumers are placing a higher priority on their cars than their homes.

And even more interesting, banks seem to have caught on to this trend. Though mortgage lending remains notoriously tight, a recent CNN Money piece pointed out that in 2011, $169 billion in car loans were granted to households with credit scores less than 700, which was a 26 percent increase from 2010; in addition, credit card issuance hit a three-year high last May.

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