Owning a home is still an “aspirational” symbol of the American Dream for many Americans, but potential homeowners are reconsidering the importance of a down payment, according to a survey by ING DIRECT, the Wilmington, Del.-based personal savings division of the Dutch insurance conglomerate. ING reported 42% of Americans believe mortgages issued for home sales with larger down payments could have reduced the number of foreclosures and prevented some of the current economic downturn. “Owning a home is an opportunity, not an entitlement,” says Arkadi Kuhlmann, president of ING DIRECT USA. “Sadly, that message has been lost in translation over the past several years. Don't trade your future for the instant gratification of owning a home you can't afford in the long run. It [sic] you want to own a home, save for it, and our survey shows that Americans agree.” ING DIRECT predicts more than 40% of American homeowners will refinance their loans in 2009, and customers are looking for options beyond the traditional 30-year mortgage. Specifically, 37% of those surveyed said they would consider a mortgage with bi-weekly payment options, allowing borrowers to pay down their loan faster. “For a saver, there is nothing more rewarding than finally becoming mortgage-free,” Kuhlmann says. “Americans want home loans that eliminate years of payments and give them the freedom to own their homes sooner.” Write to Austin Kilgore