by Broderick Perkins
(11/18/2011) - The message American voters recently sent to legislators in Washington D.C. is pretty clear: "Don't make homeownership any more difficult than it already is."
Voters who are homeowners free-and-clear, voters who are homeowners owing more than their home is worth, voters who rent and voters who still live with parents, by and large, all want to own their own home.
A recent National Association of Home Builders' survey, jointly conducted by Republican Party-leaning Public Opinion Strategies and the Democratic Party-leaning Lake Research Partners reveals the vast majority of respondents, 74 percent, said homeownership was "very important" or "one of the most important" goals in their lives.
They ranked homeownership just below being successful at their jobs and slightly more important than the ability to pay for their own education or the education of a family member.
A full 94 percent of respondents ranked owning a home as at least "somewhat important."
"Despite the current housing downturn, Americans still see homeownership as a core value and a key building block of being in the middle class and creating strong jobs in their communities," said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners in a prepared statement.
"The bipartisan consensus outside the Beltway is that owning a home remains an essential part of the American Dream," she added.
The survey found:
More than one in three (36 percent) said a home is their most valuable investment followed by 33 percent who said a retirement savings program was their top investment.
When asked if owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make, even with the ups and downs in the housing market, 75 percent "strongly agreed" or "agreed" the purchase is worth the risk, compared to 23 percent who "strongly disagreed."
When asked if owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make, even with the ups and downs in the housing market, 76 percent of voters who have a mortgage strongly agreed or agreed. The same was true for 81 percent of those who own-outright; 67 percent of renters; 72 percent of those who don't pay a mortgage and 65 percent of homeowners who owe more than their home is worth.
There's also strong agreement to the statement over age groups. When asked if owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make, even with the ups and downs in the housing market, the "strongly agree" or "agree" came from 73 to 79 percent of age groups 18-34; 35-54; 55-64 and 65 and up.
Ninety-five percent of all homeowners are either "very happy" or "happy" with homeownership. Among homeowners "underwater" (owing more than their home is worth), 83 percent are "very happy" or "happy" with their choice to own.
Also, in light of recent legislative and regulatory moves to mandate mortgage downpayment levels, voters said the greatest barrier for those who want to own a home is the downpayment (31 percent); job uncertainty (21 percent); credit score (16 percent); inability to get a loan (11 percent); current personal debt (9 percent); concerns that if home prices drop, the home investment would be worth less than the purchase price (8 percent).
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