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A silver lining: Most Americans still view housing as a good investment

But younger adults are less enthusiastic about it

A majority of Americans – 65% – think it is still a good idea to invest in a home, according to the latest survey of consumer expectations of housing by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

While this hasn’t changed much from last year, the attitudes of younger Americans have, as respondents from this generation were less enthusiastic about housing as an investment and a greater share of them labeled it a bad investment.

This gives credence to a recent Wall Street Journal article suggesting that that wave of Millennial homeowners everyone is anticipating may turn out to be no more than a ripple as a number of factors – including banks’ reluctance to make small loans and a general preference toward urban life – seemingly make homeownership less appealing for the younger set.

According to the survey, a majority of renters still think getting a mortgage is difficult, but things may be improving as the share of those who considered it easy rose above 21% for the first time in at least four years.

Home price expectations have fallen, though, the survey revealed, with the one-year outlook down 1% from last year and the five-year outlook down nearly the same.

In contrast, rent expectations held steady, with the average one-year rent increase expectation hovering near 7.3%.

When it comes to homeowners, the probability of refinancing dropped from 8.8% last year to 8%, while the probability of investing at least $5,000 in the home over the course of one and three years remained at last year’s relatively high level, the NY Fed said.

Economists at the NY Fed said homeownership in the next decade will depend primarily on mortgage credit conditions.

“Barring a change in the economy, the nation’s aging population will likely push up homeownership since older households are historically much more likely to own,” they wrote. “Further, the majority of current renter households would rather own; nonetheless, tight credit and other constraints, including the high prevalence of student debt, mean that many of these same renters see it as unlikely that they will ever be able to enter into homeownership.”

“How these factors – demographics, preferences, and constraints – play out over the next decade will determine where the homeownership rate lands,” they concluded.

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