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September 2013

Homeownership a Top Priority

for Renters

NWREporter, September 2013

Renters are thinking more about owning a home and say homeownership is one of their highest priorities, according to a new survey. The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that Americans overwhelmingly believe owning a home is a good financial decision.

The poll of 2,000 adults nationwide measured consumers' attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities. Researchers found eight in 10 Americans believe buying a home is a good financial decision. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents said now is a good time to buy.

Compared to 2001 when the last survey was conducted, more renters are now thinking about purchasing a home. The percentage rose from 25 percent to 36 percent, while those who say they prefer to rent dropped from 31 percent to 25 percent.

Other key findings from the latest survey include:

  • Half of renters now say that eventually owning a home is one of their highest personal priorities, up 9 points from 2011.
  • Respondents expect to see continued improvement in home buying, as 37 percent expect real estate sales to increase in the year ahead.
  • Concern over foreclosures showed a steep decline from 2011 when 47 percent characterized distressed properties as "very" or a "fairly big" problem; today only 29 percent say it's a problem.

While economic uncertainties remain, Americans are more upbeat about real estate sales and home ownership, according to officials with the National Association of Realtors®, which commissioned the study.

Homeownership matters to Americans who consistently realize the many benefits it provides to communities, families and the nation's economy," said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, Calif. "Due to high housing affordability and today's interest rates it makes sense for people to consider homeownership over renting. In fact, in many parts of the country it's cheaper to own a home than to rent one. Therefore, it's no surprise that renters recognize that owning a home offers tremendous long-term benefits and is an investment in their future."

For many Americans, the perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained unchanged over the years, according to NAR findings. Low wages, student loan debt, and little savings for a down payment and closing costs continue to make it difficult for many to become homeowners. Researchers said respondents across the board - young and old, college graduates and non-graduates - consider student loan debt to be a large obstacle.

When asked for reasons why homeownership is important, respondents' top reasons underscored basic American values and freedoms. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and the freedom to choose where to live were cited as key motives. While these reasons have remained virtually unchanged since 2011, they do vary slightly by demographics.

The top scoring reason for African-Americans and Hispanics was that homeownership provides stability and a safe environment. Women also placed more emphasis on environmental factors than men. Non-college graduates placed stronger emphasis on public schools, owning a home before retirement, and living in a safe and stable environment.

The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR's Housing Opportunity Program, which aims to position, educate and help Realtors® promote housing opportunities in their community, in both the rental and homeownership sectors of the market.