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America at Home: National Housing Survey Results

Each year, NeighborWorks America releases highlights from its annual national housing survey as well as issues that delay homeownership.
 

2016 Survey Results

Summary

On Oct. 12, 2016, NeighborWorks America released highlights from its fourth annual national housing survey. Aspirations of homeownership remain strong, with 89 percent of adults saying that homeownership is an important part of the American Dream, but an increasing percentage of consumers with student loan debt worry about their homeownership future, and a large percentage of consumers say that the mortgage process is complicated. 

These factors are just a few of the forces holding back the housing market from a more robust, and broad-based recovery.
More say student loans are a key obstacle in purchasing homes
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Survey details

The national telephone survey asked questions that examined the relationship that student loan debt burdens are having on homeownership. It found that in 2016, 30 percent of adults knew someone who delayed the purchase of a home because of their student loan debt burden, compared to 28 percent in 2015, and 24 percent in 2014. Importantly, of the people who reported that they held student loan debt, 53 percent said that the debt was “somewhat or very much” an obstacle to homeownership, a slight improvement from 57 percent in 2015, but still up from 49 percent in 2014.

The complexity of the homebuying process may be dampening enthusiasm for homeownership, despite historically low mortgage rates. Approximately 67 percent of adults said that they strongly or somewhat agreed “that the home buying process is complicated,” a slight improvement from 70 percent in 2015, but within the survey’s margin of error.

Nevertheless, homeownership remains a goal for most, and NeighborWorks America and the NeighborWorks network support a range of programs that help consumers understand the process, develop reasonable budget plans, and prepare financially for what is usually the biggest purchase most make in their lifetime.

This positive view of homeownership is more evident among minorities, the fastest growing segment of homebuyers. However, changes in intensity are within the survey’s margin of error of +/- 3.1%. Specifically, in 2016, 14 percent of African-Americans and 12 percent of Hispanics said that homeownership is the most important part of their view of the "American Dream," compared to 9 percent of whites. In 2015, 16 percent of African-Americans, 10 percent of Hispanics, and eight percent of whites said that homeownership was the most important part of the American Dream.

Overall affordability may perhaps be the most troubling sign for the housing market in the future. Only 45 percent of those surveyed believe that where they live is affordable to first-time homebuyers. Moreover, 56 percent of people believe that rent prices are too high for a person to save to buy a home in their area. This pessimism is especially strong among minorities who currently rent. Fifty-two percent of non-white renters strongly agree that rent prices where they live are too high to save for a future home.

For NeighborWorks organizations and other nonprofits that offer homeownership services, these data illustrate an opportunity to increase homeownership. By expanding homebuyer education, student loan debt management counseling, and down payment outreach initiatives, nonprofits would help people locate information that could may clear up market confusion and expand the use of tools that improve access and affordability.

News releases:

2015 Survey Results

Summary

On Oct. 5, 2015, NeighborWorks America released highlights from its third annual national housing survey. Aspirations of homeownership remain strong, with 87 percent of adults saying that homeownership is an “important” part of the American Dream, but an increasing percentage of consumers with student loan debt worry about their homeownership future, and a large percentage of consumers say that the mortgage process as complicated.  These factors are just a few of the forces holding back the housing market from a more robust, and broad-based recovery.
More say student loans are a key obstacle in purchasing homes

Survey details

The national telephone survey asked questions that examined the relationship that student loan debt burdens are having on homeownership. It found that in 2015, 28 percent of adults knew someone who delayed the purchase of a home because of their student loan debt burden, compared to 24 percent in 2014. Importantly, of the people who reported that they held student loan debt, 57 percent said that the debt was “somewhat or very much” an obstacle to homeownership, up from 49 percent in 2014.

The complexity of the home buying process may be dampening enthusiasm for homeownership, despite historically low mortgage rates. Approximately 70 percent of adults said that they strongly or somewhat agreed “that the home buying process is complicated”, up from 67 percent in 2014, but within the survey’s margin of error. Importantly, for people who hold student loan debt, 76 percent of them say that the home buying process is complicated, up from 70 percent in 2014.

Nevertheless, homeownership remains a goal for most, and NeighborWorks America supports a range of programs that help consumers understand the process, develop reasonable budget plans, and prepare financially for what is usually the biggest purchase most make in their lifetime.

This positive view of homeownership is more evident among minorities, the fastest growing segment of homebuyers.  However, the intensity has declined from the year before. Sixteen percent of African-Americans and 10 percent of Hispanics said that homeownership is the most important part of their view of the "American Dream," compared to 8 percent of whites. In 2014, twenty-six percent of African-Americans, 18 percent of Hispanics, and 8 percent of whites said that homeownership was the most important part of the American Dream.

Perhaps most troubling for the housing market in the future is that nearly one-in-five people with student debt (19 percent) said that their view of homeownership has changed for the worse since the housing crisis, statistically unchanged from 20 percent in 2014. In contrast, just 11 percent of people without student loan debt said that their view of homeownership has worsened since the housing crisis, down from 13 percent in 2014, and within the margin of the survey error.

For NeighborWorks organizations and other nonprofits that offer homeownership services, this gap presents an opportunity. According to the survey, consumers with student loan debt are overall more likely to seek out the advice of a nonprofit housing counselor when pursuing homeownership, 24 percent in 2015 (essentially flat from 25 percent in 2014), than those without such debt at 14 percent, again essentially flat from 13 percent in 2014. 
 

News releases:

 

2014 Survey Results

Summary

On Oct. 21, 2014, NeighborWorks America released highlights from its second annual national housing survey. Chief among the findings is that despite a very tight mortgage lending environment and memories of the housing crisis still relatively fresh, the overwhelming majority of adults (88 percent) have maintained a positive view of homeownership.

This positive view of homeownership is even more evident among minorities, the fastest growing segment of homebuyers. Twenty-six percent of African-Americans and 18 percent of Hispanics said that homeownership is the most important part of their view of the "American Dream," compared to 8 percent of whites.
 
Americans say student loans are key obstacle to purchasing homes
America at Home: 70 percent unaware of down-payment assistance
 

Survey details

The survey examined the effect that student loan debt burdens are having on homeownership. It found that nearly one-in-four adults knows someone who delayed the purchase of a home because of their student loan debt burden, and that 49 percent of holders of student debt said that the debt was “somewhat or very much” an obstacle to homeownership.

The complexity of the home buying process also is more noticeable among people with student loan debt. Fifty-one percent of this group say that the process is complicated against just 36 percent of adults without student loan debt.

Perhaps most troubling for the housing market in the future is that 20 percent of the people with student loan debt said that their view of homeownership has changed for the worse since the housing crisis, while just 13 percent without debt were as pessimistic.

Consumers with student loan debt are more likely to seek out the advice of a nonprofit housing counselor when pursuing homeownership (25 percent), than those without such debt (13 percent).

News releases:

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Additional survey findings:

Survey methodology

This survey was conducted by Widmeyer Communications, A Finn Partners Company, from Sept. 25-29, 2014. The survey was conducted with a nationally-representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults via telephone by professional interviewers using a random digit dial (RDD) sample. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

 

2013 Survey Results

Summary

We must spread the word about the availability and benefits of nonprofit housing counseling.
On Nov. 20, 2013, NeighborWorks America released highlights from its first national housing survey. Chief among the findings is that five years after the deepest housing crisis since the Great Depression – which triggered the foreclosure of nearly a million homes every year since – most adults have maintained a positive, but grounded, view of homeownership: While the vast majority (88 percent) said owning their own home is an important element of their “American dream,” a healthy 55 percent also said they would not feel any less successful if they did not.
America at Home Survey

Survey details

Forty percent of survey respondents reported feeling less prepared to purchase a home than they were five years ago, and 75 percent described the home-buying process as “complicated.”
  Yet the most widely cited sources of information are “family and friends,” rather than professionals such as nonprofit housing counselors, who provide a full range of assistance such as credit assessment, budget planning and foreclosure intervention.

The survey also found a strong need, and support for, rental housing. Fifty-five percent of renters said they plan to continue to rent, and 25 percent of homeowners said that they were likely to consider renting instead of buying their next home following the foreclosure crisis. Likewise, 81 percent of renters said they feel as committed to their homes and communities as owners.

News releases:

Blog post:

Additional survey findings:

Survey methodology

Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, conducted the nationally representative survey among 1,000 U.S. adults Sept. 23-26, 2013. Respondents were contacted by telephone, and were selected using random digit dialing (RDD). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level, which means that 95 percent of the time, the results reflect the beliefs of the overall population of U.S. adults, plus or minus 3.1 percent.