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Genworth survey shows mix of homebuyer optimism and concern

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The overall outlook for the U.S. economy may be negative, but there are some more optimistic views for the housing market, according to a new survey from Genworth Financial (GNW). Genworth surveyed more than 9,000 people from nine countries and found there’s more confidence among potential homebuyers despite continued worries about economic policies and personal finances. The insurance provider's first International Mortgage Trends Report, conducted by research firm RFI, showed the economic crisis of the past few years has left many Americans leery and hesitant to re-enter the housing market. "Concerns about the rising cost of living, property market instability and the impact of government-led austerity measures have eroded homebuyer confidence in some countries, and have led consumers to adopt a wait-and-see attitude," the company said. More than half of Americans respondents view the U.S. economy negatively, mostly due to concerns over personal finances. Those polled in other countries said the fear of increased living expenses, especially utility costs, also deters home purchases. More than 80% of those surveyed in the U.S. said climbing gas prices are of great concern, yet about 60% think it a good time to buy a home, mostly because of historically low interest rates, according to the report. "There is no universal answer to the problem of housing affordability," said Mike Fraizer, chief executive of Genworth Financial. "But clear initiatives need to continually be developed to meet changing conditions and improve the opportunities so more people can realize their dream of home ownership. If this can be achieved there is good cause for optimism for the future of housing markets globally." Jason Philyaw contributed to this report. Write to Matthew Torres.

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