Though the housing bust has shattered home property values and changed the landscape of neighborhoods, one thing is still the same: Americans are committed to homeownership. Whether they own their home, are underwater on a mortgage, rent or live with roommates (or parents), a recent poll found that a large majority of U.S. residents want to own their own home.
The poll, conducted this May by the firms Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders, had a sampling of 2,000 likely voters. It found that 94% of respondents ranked owning their own home as at least somewhat important. A decided majority of the respondents, 74%, said it was “very important” or “one of the most important” priorities in their lives. Owning a home ranked just below being successful at work and slightly more important than the ability to pay for an education or that of a family member.
Three out of four of those polled said they agreed with the idea that “owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make,” even with the ups and downs in the market. Even 20% homeowners who were underwater on their mortgage agreed with the statement.
“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 press statement. “The bipartisan consensus outside the Beltway is that owning a home remains an essential part of the American dream.”
Having the money to invest in the first place seems to be the biggest challenge. When non-homeowners were asked about their biggest obstacle to buying a home, lack of savings for the down payment and closing costs came first, at 31 percent. Presumably, that answer stems in some measure from the fact that 20 percent of those polled indicated that either they or a member of their immediate household was out of work and looking for a job.
Respondents were evenly split in their feelings on the idea of requiring home buyers to put a minimum 20% down on a home purchase. Their opinion seemed to hinge largely on whether they were already a homeowner or had yet to take the real estate plunge, however.