Real Estate Market

Most say it's a good time to buy, fewer see housing as a good investment

(9/23/2010) Most Americans believe the housing market has hit the bottom and that it's a good time to buy, in part because many also think rents will rise faster than home prices.

Fannie Mae's latest nation housing survey found that 70 percent of Americans think it's a good time to buy a home, up from 64 percent in January.

By an overwhelming majority, 78 percent, also believe home prices will either hold steady or increase over the next year, compared to 85 percent believing the same thing about rental increases.

While Americans expect rents to rise by 3.6 percent on average, home prices are expected to turn up only by 0.9 percent, Fannie Mae found.

"Given the remaining level of shadow inventory, as well as the high number of adjustable rate resets still looming which could in turn lead to further defaults, it is difficult to see the supply of housing falling in an amount sufficient to move prices upwards in many parts of the country," said Nancy Osborne, chief operating officer of ERATE, a Santa Clara, CA-based financial information publisher and interest rate tracker.

Also 67 percent believe housing is a safe investment, down three points since January and down 16 percentage points from a similar 2003 survey and the largest drop by far among all investment types tracked since then. Housing ranked second behind putting money into a savings or money market account (76 percent).

"Our survey shows that consumers see a mixed outlook for housing and homeownership," said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's vice president and chief economist.

"These findings indicate a return to a more balanced and realistic approach toward housing. While this will likely weigh on the housing recovery in the near-term, it should, over time, help to build a stronger and healthier market focused on sustainable homeownership," he added.

The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polled homeowners and renters between June 2010 and July 2010 and compared the findings to similar surveys released earlier this year and 2003.

The survey also found:

• Mortgage borrowers (74 percent) and underwater borrowers (69 percent) are more likely to say owning a home is a safe investment than delinquent borrowers (57 percent) and renters (54 percent). However, this measure has fallen among all sub-groups since January, with delinquent borrowers and renters showing the largest declines, down eight and seven points, respectively.

• More than 70 percent of all respondents believe it will be harder for the next generation to buy a home, up three points from the beginning of the year.

• Fifty-four percent think it would be very difficult or somewhat difficult to get a home loan today, down six points since January.

• Thirty-three percent of all Americans said they would be more likely to rent rather than buy if they were going to move, up from 30 percent in January.

• Among renters, 60 percent said they would rent again if they were to move, up from 54 percent in January. However, 69 percent of renters think it makes more sense to buy a home than to rent.

• Mortgage borrowers (83 percent) and underwater borrowers (77 percent) remain bullish on housing and said they are more likely to buy in the future than rent — both groups increased two points from January.

"If you couple this (high inventories and rate resets) with the reality that it is far more difficult to obtain a mortgage as well as a job, when selling a home to someone who presumably needs financing to buy it, housing is still facing a conundrum." Osborne added.

 

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