Despite More Willingness to Rent, Aspirations for Homeownership Remain High

The housing crisis has taken its toll on many people, yet 51 percent of Americans surveyed said the crisis has had no impact on their long-term willingness to buy a home, and 27 percent even said they are more willing to buy a home since the housing market collapse, said a new Fannie Mae survey released last week.

However, while long-term aspirations remain high, actual short-term behavior may play out a bit differently. The Fannie Mae 2010 Own-Rent Analysis found that since January 2010, 33 percent (up from 30 percent) are more likely to rent their next home than buy. Also, 59 percent of renters said they will stay renters for the time being, compared to 54 percent in January.

Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s vice president and chief economist, cited in the report a few important factors that are contributing to the increase in renters – namely, the housing crisis and resulting hesitation to enter the housing market as well as general consumer spending cutbacks; and demographic shifts such as fewer married couples and fewer married couples with children. Married couples – now just 50 percent of the U.S. population down from 56 percent in 1990 – are much more likely to be homeowners, and having children increases a person or couple’s desire to own a home.

Other points of note in the survey, which interviewed approximately 2,000 members of the general population by telephone, include the apparent burden the housing crisis has had on young people than significantly more than older Americans. It found homeownership for those ages 25 to 29 has declined 11 percent since peak rates, compared to 5 percent for those 35 to 44. The square footage of new homes is also decreasing for the first time in years, dropping by 6 square feet since the housing bubble in 2006.

And yet, the good news for the housing industry is homeownership aspirations remain optimistically high. Also, the study said, homeownership increases with age, and the country is currently “experiencing an aging trend” in retirement-age citizens, due to the aging of the baby boomer generation. There is also still a strong belief among most surveyed that homeownership is the best idea in the long run – 89 percent of homeowners and half of renters believe they would be better off owning homes, the survey said.

For more information, see the report and other findings here.

Written by Clare Pierson

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