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Americans are significantly more optimistic about homeownership than they were a year ago. That’s according to a new national survey released this week from Prudential Real Estate, a Brookfield Residential Property Services company. According to the second-annual Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey, a full 60 percent of Americans have favorable views toward the real estate market. That’s up 8 points since last year.

The survey shows that signs of increasing optimism are widespread:

• With interest rates at historically low levels, 96 percent agree or somewhat agree that now is a good time to buy.

• A full 70 percent of respondents have some degree of confidence that property values will improve over the next two years; with an 8 point increase in those very confident or confident compared to last year.

• 63 percent believe that real estate is a good investment despite the recent market volatility; that’s up 11 points from last year.

The survey confirms that despite the recession, homeownership remains a central part of the American Dream. Eight in 10 respondents said homeownership is very important to them; only 15 percent said the economic downturn made homeownership less important.

“Respondents told us what our sales professionals see every day that, despite recent market volatility, homeownership remains integral to the dreams of most Americans and that consumers’ confidence in the housing market is returning,” said Earl Lee, president, Prudential Real Estate. “This is good news for home buyers and sellers, communities and our economy as a whole. As more people look to take advantage of historic interest rates and prices, we believe the foundation for a sustainable recovery is in sight.”

The survey also highlighted strong ties between homeownership and the community: 77 percent agree that homeownership strengthens a sense of community with 87 percent agreeing or somewhat agreeing that neighborhood comprised of homeowners have a stronger sense of community than neighborhoods made up mainly of renters. This is critical in an environment where two in three respondents believe community feelings in America are declining.

Among the generations, 94 percent of respondents believe that finding the right home and community are crucial to helping their family be happy. Only a small minority of older Americans said the recent housing crisis made homeownership less important to them. Nearly half of Gen Y respondents said it made homeownership more important. Gen Y’ers are particularly optimistic about the road ahead with 72% expressing favorable views about the residential real estate market.

“Characteristically, many of these consumers, particularly Gen Y, share a firm sense of family and community,” Lee said. “It’s not surprising now that they’re embracing homeownership to build on that sense.”

The survey also highlighted consumer caution in a recovering real estate market: 93 percent of respondents said that the housing crisis reminds them that they must be more careful about buying and selling property. More than 90 percent of respondents said a good real estate sales professional can help them make the right choices about homes and communities; and 71 percent believe good agent representation is more important than ever, up 4% from last year’s survey.

Methodology: Interviews with 1,251 Americans who are “in the market” to buy or sell a home were conducted online by Palisades Media Ventures and Penn Schoen Berland, between Feb. 10 and 20, 2012. Respondents are aged 25-64 with a household income of at least $50,000, and either recently bought/sold a home or are considering buying/selling a home. The margin of error is +/- 2.8% for all respondents and higher for subgroups.

For more information, visit http://www.prudential.com/realestate


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