New Survey Reveals Positive Housing Sentiment

Wish Americans didn't have such a negative view of the housing market? According Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey, they don't. Consumer sentiment, the safeness of a home as an investment and the importance of paying debts all scored relatively high marks.

A Good Time to Buy

Perhaps the most surprising result was the strength of consumer sentiment towards buying a home. Approximately the same number of respondents believes that now is a good a time to buy a home as did in 2003:

fannie poll cht1 2010-04.PNG

So should we expect a new housing boom, like the one we saw in 2004-2006? Not exactly. Just because people think it's a good time to buy a home doesn't mean many will do so. Consumers must also be able to buy a home. Considering the economic challenges the U.S. continues to face, fewer Americans have the income, wealth and credit needed to purchase a house now than in 2003.

Still A Safe Investment

Interestingly, the housing market's collapse hasn't deterred many people from appreciating a home's value as a safe investment. The survey also found that the vast majority of Americans still consider a home a very safe place to invest your savings:

fannie poll cht2 2010-04.PNG

Perhaps they should read this post from earlier, which argues that home prices shouldn't generally increase much.

Strategic Default Is Unacceptable

Another fascinating finding: few Americans likely view so-called strategic defaults favorably. Those occur when borrowers who can afford to pay for their mortgages decide to stop doing so, usually because the home is worth less than their mortgage balance. The survey found that 88% of Americans (and 70% of those delinquent) did not believe it was "acceptable" for people to stop making payments on underwater mortgages. Only 8% thought it was acceptable. But when the poll factored in financial distress, that 8% rose to 15%.

The news wasn't all good. Only 31% thought that the U.S. economy was on the right track, though the poll was conducted from December 12th 2009 through January 12, 2010, so sentiment has likely improved since that time.

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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.

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