Seventy percent of Americans say homeownership is part of achieving American Dream, remains unchanged since January, survey finds; 51% of renters who wish to buy home say down payment is biggest obstacle
September 21, 2011
– Trulia today released the results of its biannual American Dream survey, which has tracked American attitudes towards homeownership since 2008. Harris Interactive conducted this online survey on Trulia's behalf between August 30 to September 1, 2011 among 2,207 U.S. adults aged 18 and over.
* Homeownership Remains Central to the American Dream: According to the survey, 70 percent of Americans said homeownership is part of achieving their American Dream. This remained unchanged since January1 despite record-low home sales and ongoing instability in the today's financial markets. Notably, more than half (57 percent) of current homeowners said owning a home is among the best long-term investments they could make, ahead of putting money in a 401K or other retirement accounts (52 percent). In fact, 80 percent said they plan to buy another home in the future which includes 69 percent of homeowners aged 55 years old or older. Meanwhile, across all age groups -- even among 18-34 year olds, who have the lowest homeownership rates in the country -- the majority of respondents said their American Dream includes owning a home.
* Short-term Obstacles Creating Uncertainty for Most Homebuyers: Falling home prices and low interest rates aren't enough to overcome the biggest obstacles to homeownership for aspiring homeowners. Among renters who wish to buy a home at this time, more than half (51 percent) said saving enough for a down payment is a major barrier to homeownership. This especially rang true for young adults (18-34 year olds), with 62 percent saying this was what kept them from purchasing a home at this time. Meanwhile, mortgage qualification and having a poor credit history were a bigger concern among 35-54 year olds.
Biggest obstacle keeping renters - who wish to be homeowners now - from buying
Saving enough for a down payment 51%
Qualifying for a mortgage 36%
Having a poor credit history 34%
Unable to pay off existing debt 31%
Not having a stable job 29%
Declining home values 13%
NOTE: Survey respondents were allowed to select multiple responses in describing the biggest obstacles to homeownership to them.
* American Dream Shifts Away From McMansions and Suburban Living: Reflecting the change in consumer spending habits, homebuyer preferences in today's post-bubble economy have become more practical and less aspirational. Among Americans who said homeownership is part of their personal American Dream, only 6 percent said their ideal home size is more than 3,200 square feet -- a 36.5 percent decrease from 9 percent in 20102. In addition to shunning super-sized homes, future demand may turn away from traditional suburban neighborhoods as Baby Boomers retire and trade down while Millennials move closer to employment hubs and accessible transit. When asked what would be the most important neighborhood amenities if they were in the market for a new home, 56 percent of Americans aged 55 years or older -- more than any other age group -- say would be being near more restaurants and shops while shorter commutes would be a higher priority for 57 percent of young adults (18-34 year olds).
* "Despite the slow and weak economic recovery and stumbling housing market, the American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. Given the strong intent to buy a home among today's renters and homeowners, I am optimistic that long-term housing demand will recover -- even though today's prices tell a different story," said Jed Kolko, Trulia's Chief Economist. "But the homes that people will want in the future will look different than today's housing stock. Retiring baby boomers won't want big suburban houses: they care more about easy access to restaurants and retail and will be willing to trade down. High gas prices -- which make long-distance commuting more expensive -- will accelerate this trend especially among Millennials, as would changes to the mortgage interest deduction that reduce demand for expensive homes. But in many cities, regulations against dense development push new construction to outlying, lower-density areas. "
* "From saving enough for a down payment to qualifying for a mortgage and having a poor credit history, today's aspiring homeowners face many financial obstacles in order achieve their American Dream of homeownership," said Jed Kolko, Trulia's Chief Economist. "These obstacles keep some would-be homeowners from taking advantage of low mortgage rates; on the other hand, they prevent some people from buying homes they can't really afford. Government homeownership policies can target some of these obstacles to homeownership, but only stronger economic recovery will help households facing multiple obstacles become better able to buy homes."
The August 2011 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its Quick Query omnibus product on behalf of Trulia between August 30 - September 1, 2011 among 2,207 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,392 were homeowners and 758 were renters.
The January 2011 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its Quick Query omnibus product on behalf of Trulia between January 20-24, 2011 among 2,079 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,339 were homeowners and 683 were renters.
The July 2011 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its Quick Query omnibus product on behalf of Trulia between July 22-26, 2011 among 2,055 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,345 were homeowners and 663 were renters.
Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodologies, including weighting variables, click here.
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Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us -- and our clients -- stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visitwww.harrisinteractive.com.