Housing bust? So what? We still want to own

By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The American Dream is still alive and kicking, including within immigrant and minority communities, according to a survey from mortgage giant Fannie Mae.

The housing crisis hasn't quenched the homeownership thirst, the company found. More than 51% of people said the bust did not change their willingness to buy a home and an additional 27% said it actually made them more likely to do so.

"The crisis has not put a dent in the desire to own," said Doug Duncan, Fannie's chief economist, "although it may have changed the reasons that people want to own."

The report, the first close analysis Fannie has taken of consumer attitudes about the rent-or-own decision, found that qualitative reasons -- like having the ability to remodel or to send the kids to a better school -- have overtaken financial considerations as the primary motivators for homeownership.

Some misperceptions about financial benefits may help to keep it high.

"People's attitudes don't always line up with empirical facts," said Duncan.

For example, although trillions of dollars of equity were wiped out by the housing bust and millions of people will lose homes to foreclosure, nearly two-thirds of people surveyed still believe purchasing a house is a safe investment. That could be viewed as a major disconnect.

Also, more than half the public thought buying a home was a good idea financially even if they plan to move out in less than three years. That's actually rarely true because transactional costs like real estate commissions, title insurance costs and mortgage fees take a big cut off the top of selling and purchase prices.

Furthermore, a huge majority, 86% of those surveyed, cite income-tax benefits -- mostly the mortgage interest deduction -- as a big reason to buy. That benefit, however, is very small for most homeowners or even nonexistent.

"Lower-income homeowners, for example, don't itemize," said Duncan, "so there is no tax benefit for them at all."

Broad homeownership hopes

Fannie found that no matter what their ethnicity or immigration status, Americans generally share similar positive attitudes toward homeownership, even though there are substantial differences among these groups in homeownership rates.

It seems that economic opportunities, not attitudes, account for much of the variation.

Only 44% of African Americans own homes, for instance, compared with 71% of whites, but that disparity starts to vanish among families in stronger financial circumstances. African Americans' homeownership rises to 60% for those earning between $50,000 and $99,000, for example.

The survey findings have implications for Fannie's business model. Non-Hispanic whites are projected to account for just 46% of the population by 2050. Immigration will account for most of the population growth between now and then.

And since, as the report stated, "strong homeownership aspirations exist across races, ethnicities and immigrant groups," Fannie can count on future demand for owner-occupied homes remaining strong, as long as the economy cooperates. To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.01%4.03%
15 yr fixed3.12%2.97%
5/1 ARM3.11%2.99%
30 yr refi4.04%4.09%
15 yr refi3.15%3.05%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
  • Find Homes for sale
    Real estate and homes for sale on Trulia

  • Property Type
  • Find a home in: New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
  • Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,804.80 26.65 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,765.38 16.98 0.36%
S&P 500 2,070.65 9.42 0.46%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 12:17am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.62 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 111.78 -0.87 -0.77%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.48 1.91%
Intel Corp 36.37 -0.65 -1.76%
Microsoft Corp 47.66 0.14 0.29%
Data as of Dec 19

Sections

New York Magazine reporter Jessica Pressler, who has been caught up in controversy this past week, will not be moving on to a new job at Bloomberg News. More

Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More

Forums in dark corners of the web sell the kinds of hacks that befell Sony. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

The income of the top 1% jumped significantly in 2012, far outpacing inflation. Not only did this group make a larger share of the country's income, their share of total taxes also jumped from 35% to 38%. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.