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Americans are significantly more optimistic about homeownership than they were a year ago, according to a new national survey released by Prudential Real Estate and Prudential Network Realty. The second-annual Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey shows 60 percent of Americans have favorable views toward the real estate market, up eight 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 eight point increase in those very confident or confident compared to last year.

• Despite recent market volatility, 63 percent believe real estate is a good investment, 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. Only 15 percent said the economic downturn made homeownership less important.

“Respondents nationally and locally told us what our sales professionals see every day. Despite recent market volatility, homeownership remains integral to the dreams of most Americans and that consumers’ confidence in the housing market is returning,” says Prudential Network Realty Founder, President and CEO Linda H. Sherrer. “This is good news for home buyers and sellers in Northeast Florida. 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 while 87 percent agree or somewhat agree that neighborhoods comprised of homeowners have a stronger sense of community that neighborhoods make 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 the Gen Y respondents said it made homeownership more important. Gen Y’ers are particularly optimistic about the road ahead with 72 percent 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,” says Christy Budnick, executive vice president of residential real estate, Prudential Network Realty. “It is not surprising now that they are embracing homeownership in Northeast Florida and across the country 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 percent from last year’s survey.

For more information, visit www.PrudentialNetworkRealty.com.

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