WASHINGTON – July 26, 2013 – Americans overwhelmingly believe homeownership is a good financial decision, and a majority of renters say homeownership is one of their highest priorities for the future, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR)’s 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey.
The survey found that renters are thinking more about purchasing a home now than they have in past years, and the number of people who say they prefer renting has declined.
“Due to high housing affordability and today’s interest rates it makes sense for people to consider homeownership over renting,” says NAR President Gary Thomas. “In fact, in many parts of the country it’s cheaper to own a home than to rent one.”
The survey, which measures consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities, found eight in 10 Americans believe buying a home is a good financial decision and more than two-thirds (68 percent) said now is a good time to buy a home.
Since the last survey in 2011, more renters are now thinking about purchasing a home, up from 25 percent to 36 percent, while those who say they prefer to rent dropped from 31 percent to 25 percent. Half of renters say that eventually owning a home is one of their highest personal priorities, up from 42 percent to 51 percent.
Attitudes toward the housing market have also improved over the years. Nearly four in 10 Americans (38 percent) identified an increase in activity within their local housing market in the past year, compared to just 22 percent who reported a slowdown in activity. In 2011, some 51 percent reported a slowdown in activity. There was also less concern than in the past about the drop in home values; a majority said housing prices in their area are more expensive than a year ago.
In addition to improved attitudes about the housing market, respondents also showed an improved outlook about the national economy. Just under half (48 percent) said job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, down from 61 percent in 2011. The concern over foreclosures showed a steep decline from 2011 when 47 percent characterized distressed properties as “very” or a “fairly big problem”; today only 29 percent say it’s a problem.
For many Americans, the perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained unchanged over the years: low wages, student loan debt, and little savings for a down payment and closing costs. Respondents across the board – young and old, college graduates and non-graduates – consider student loan debt to be a large obstacle.
“Buyers with student loan debt may find it difficult to access mortgage credit, as well as save for a down payment,” says Thomas. “Pending mortgage finance regulations requiring higher down payments could also contribute to the already tight lending environment. Realtors are working with regulators to address this issue.”
When asked why homeownership is important, respondents’ top reasons underscored basic American values and freedoms: building equity, a stable and safe environment, and the freedom to choose where to live.
Those reasons have remained virtually unchanged since 2011, though they vary slightly according to demographics. The top scoring reason for African-Americans and Hispanics was that homeownership provides stability and a safe environment; women also placed more emphasis on environmental factors than men. Non-college graduates placed stronger emphasis on public schools, owning a home before retirement, and living in a safe and stable environment.
American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program conduct the 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey. The telephone survey polled 2,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
More info about Housing Pulse Survey can be found on NAR’s website.
© 2013 Florida Realtors®