Of more than 2,000 respondents to a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), nearly half — 49% — believe they will never afford a 20% down payment to purchase a home. The NFCC said the discouraging news implies that buying a home will always be out of reach for these people. In the past, finding the money for a down payment was only a problem for first-time homebuyers, the NFCC said. After making the first purchase, borrowers could use the proceeds of selling it as a down payment on the next one. That was in an appreciating market, however. "Due to today's turbulent housing market, the problem has now spread to those who currently own a home. Many mortgages are underwater. Thus, even if the homeowner is able to sell their current house, there may be no profit available to satisfy the down-payment on the next home," according to the NFCC survey report. Gail Cunningham, a spokesperson for the NFCC, said with home prices averaging at just below $200,000, a 20% down payment – $40,000 – is "a nice chunk of change by any standard." "Some may still be able to obtain an FHA loan with a low down-payment requirement, but those with poor credit will likely have to put a larger amount down. Even with the economy improving, considering the staggering number of people who are out of work and those whose retirement plans have been decimated, buying a home may no longer be a part of the American dream, at least not in the near future," Cunningham said. While 12% of the respondents said they would have no trouble coming up with a 20% down payment, 20% said they would need a loan with a much lower down payment, and 18% said they would have to borrow the down-payment money regardless of how much is required. Write to Jon Prior.