April 18, 2011
Nation's Building News

The Official Online Newspaper of NAHB

Economics and Finance
Financial Value of Owning a Home Hard to Beat, Public Tells Pew Researchers

Despite a five-year “swoon” in housing prices, the American public’s confidence in the investment of homeownership remains unshaken, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

Of the adults whom Pew surveyed by telephone during the second half of March, fully 81% agreed that buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make.

The researchers pointed out that the intensity of the public’s faith in the financial value of homeownership has softened a bit since the same question was asked in a CBS News/New York Times survey in 1991.

Twenty years ago, 49% of the respondents “strongly” agreed that owning a home was their best investment and 35% agreed “somewhat.”

When the question was posed last month, 37% agreed “strongly” and 44% said they “somewhat” agreed.

“Even so, confidence at any level these days is notable, given that the housing market is mired in the longest and deepest decline in modern American history,” the report says.

Of those polled, about half (47%) reported that their home was worth less than before the recession began; 31% said its value had stayed the same; and 17% indicated their home had seen some appreciation.

“Of those who say their home has lost value, 86% say they expect it to take at least three years to recover to pre-recession levels; 42% say it will take at least six years; and 10% say it will take more than 10 years,” according to the report.

Also among the survey results, 81% of renters said they would like to buy a home one day and 80% of all respondents said that being able to own a home is an important long-term financial goal.

Of those enlisted to participate in the survey for the report — “Five Years After the Bubble Burst — Some Sweet Home. Still.” — 57% owned a home, 30% were renters; and the remainder had other arrangements, such as living with family members.

Pessimism on the Economy, Finances

In separate surveying by the Pew Research Center from March 30 to April 3, the public view of the nation’s economy appeared to be souring.

In February, 42% of those surveyed rated the state of the economy as “poor,” with sentiments moving in a less negative direction since last October, when 54% saw the economy as poor.

However, in the new survey, the number saying economic conditions were poor climbed to 53%, up 11 points from February.

Since February, Pew also found, there has been a decline in the number of people saying the economic recovery is already occurring or will kick in soon.

“Two months ago, a majority (57%) said the economy was recovering (24%) or that the economy would recover soon (33%),” according to the Pew Research Center. “Only about four-in-10 (42%) said it would be a long time before the economy recovered.

“Today, more (54%) say the recovery is a long way off than say either it is already recovering (20%) or will soon recover (24%).”

Asked about their family’s financial situation, most rated their finances as either only fair (36%) or poor (26%); 29% said they were in good shape; and 7% said they were in excellent shape.

Register for Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on April 27

The NAHB Spring Construction Forecast Webinar will provide attendees with up-to-the-minute analysis of the latest housing numbers and market trends right to their desktop. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics; and Robert Denk, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, will address issues affecting the housing industry and the economy — including competition from short sales and foreclosures, consumers' inability to sell their existing homes, appraisals coming in below construction costs, and restrictive lending conditions for buyers and builders — and how builder confidence and the market may evolve as those factors change.

The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.

To Register

For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfw.

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Data You Can Build On

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