Survey Finds 76% of Consumers Favor Renting to Homeownership

Thu, May 27, 2010


As the real estate market continues to fight an uphill battle towards recovery, the dream of homeownership seems to be dying out for some consumers, at least for the time being.

According to a new online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted in May by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the Arlington, Virginia-based National Apartment Association (NAA), 76 percent of consumers deemed renting to be the more favorable option to owning a home in the current real estate market, a 5 percent jump from the 2008 survey results.

“While some may want to declare the housing crisis over, consumer patterns of behavior are showing otherwise,” said Douglas Culkin, NAA president. “The findings in this survey mirror what our members are seeing throughout the country, especially in areas of the country that are experiencing the first signs of economic recovery.”

Of those who favored renting, 64 percent cited having no responsibility for major repairs or maintenance as the primary benefit to renting a home versus owning one, up from 57 percent in 2008. In addition, 50 percent cited

financial reasons such as not being impacted by an unpredictable real estate market and not being susceptible to foreclosure.

“The simple fact remains that in a bad economy, people must make whatever changes necessary to improve their situation, especially if they have lost their job,” Culkin said. “Sometimes this might mean moving to another city where there is more opportunity, and if you’re tied to a mortgage, you don’t have the same ease of mobility as you do if you lease your home.”

Going forward, 60 percent of renters surveyed said they plan to continue renting their current resident or rent a new residence within the next year, and just 12 percent said they have plans to buy a new home this year. As for homeowners, 71 percent said they will stay in their current home over the next year.

The fact that both renters and homeowners are not eager to make any changes in their housing status within the next year signifies low consumer confidence and uncertainty in the housing market, NAA said.

The survey also found that consumers continue to experience economic backlash from the foreclosure crisis, as 93 percent of respondents said they feel the financial security of homeowners is more or equally affected by the current state of the housing market. NAA said this mirrored the response from the 2008 survey, indicating that the economic impact of the foreclosure crisis has not shifted or improved.

“The results are yet to be seen if the tax-credit incentives worked, but the larger issue remains that pushing the idea of homeownership as the only way to achieve the American Dream is not a viable strategy for the future,” Culkin said.

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