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Survey Reveals How Americans View Homeownership as a Way to Build Wealth

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By Amy Hoak

RISMEDIA, June 29, 2009-(MCT)-Nearly half of American adults who participated in a recent survey said they no longer believe that homeownership is a realistic way to build wealth, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling reported this week.

The findings, from a recent survey of about 1,000 people, run counter to the long-held perception that a home should be part of a person’s financial strategy, the NFCC said.

“It had been considered the cornerstone of wealth building,” said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the NFCC. Homeownership had been a significant tool that most people felt was necessary to prepare for retirement, she said in a phone interview.

The survey was conducted because the organization was curious about future implications of living through the mortgage meltdown, she said. Whether consumers reflect on their own experience or are just “observing the guy in the cubicle next door,” conditions have caused many people to change their attitudes about housing, she said.

For now, anyway. According to an annual survey from the NFCC released earlier this year, 57% of adults reported that they were spending less than they were a year ago, Cunningham said. But 45% of those who were spending less said that if their financial situation improved, they would resume their spending habits.

The results released on Monday found that nearly one-third of those polled don’t think they will ever be able to afford to buy a home. Forty-two percent of people who have purchased a home – but no longer own it – don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford to buy another. And 31% of those who still own a home don’t think they’ll ever be able to buy another – whether it’s to upgrade their existing home or buy a vacation home.

According to the survey, 74% of those who have never purchased a home said they could benefit from first-time home buyer education.

“The good news from the survey is that people now seem to grasp that buying a home is a complicated process and admit that they would benefit from education in advance of signing on the dotted line,” Cunningham said in a news release.

©2009, MarketWatch.com Inc.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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