Real Estate Market

Voters seeking candidates who champion housing

(11/9/2011) - Candidates running for office in 2012 had better put their housing game on the table.

From tiny towns to the national electorate, voters have been clear about who they want in office -- elected officials who see housing as an economic cornerstone critical to recovery.

More than 80 percent of Americans believe housing is critical to economic recovery and candidates' positions on housing will be important to the decisions of nearly 70 percent of Americans when they go to the polls in the 2012 election, according to a national survey released today by Move, Inc., an online network of real estate web sites.

The survey reveals deep national concern over the housing situation and the importance housing will play in next year's national elections.

Nearly one in three of those surveyed think helping homeowners avoid foreclosure should be the next presidential priority in his or her first 100 days in office. Keeping interest rates low (26.4 percent) ranked second and making more affordable mortgage credit available (14 percent) placed third.

• Americans are not optimistic about change in the housing market.

More than 73 percent of Americans believe conditions for buying a home a year from now will be the same or worse than today. Only 23.2 percent expect home buying conditions to improve.

"After four years of living in a housing downturn, American voters clearly want answers and are looking to our elected leaders for solutions," said Errol Samuelson, chief revenue officer of Move, Inc.

• Americans are just as split as elected officials over government's role in housing.

Move reported 42 percent said the government's role in housing should be reduced; 21.3 percent said it should be increased and 31 percent said the role of government in housing should remain the same.

• Americans find themselves in a Catch-22 quandary over housing.

While they believe housing is critical to economic recovery, only 2 percent of those surveyed plan to buy a home in the next 12 months.

Among those who won't take the plunge for at least two years, 55.1 percent don't have enough for the down payment and closing costs; 52.5 percent said they're concerned about jobs or lack confidence in the economy; 53.1 percent are waiting for prices to stabilize or increase; and 34.6 percent said tight and expensive credit is an obstacle.

Home prices are more affordable than they were a year ago and just about as affordable as they were before the big boom run up in prices, but American's aren't buying it.

In March 2010, 45.4 percent said they thought a median income family could afford more than half of the homes for sale in their neighborhood. Today, only 32 percent share that sentiment.

"Perceptions as much as the realities of homeownership are standing in the way of boosting demand for housing. Until these concerns are resolved, we expect both buyers and sellers to remain on the sidelines," said Samuelson.

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