Talk about mixed signals. Most Americans believe buying a home is a good investment, but a majority also think we’re still in the midst of a crisis, the MacArthur Foundation reported today.
The group’s annual housing survey found that 41 percent of Americans think we’re still in crisis mode and 20 percent think the worst is yet to come.
Yet more than half—56 percent—think buying a home is an excellent long-term investment and one of the best ways to build wealth. That’s up significantly from a year ago and might be a sign of growing confidence in the market as home prices continue to climb.
And Americans remain steadfastly aspirational. Seventy percent of renters want to own, and millennials in particular consider homeownership a high priority—53 percent compared to 43 percent for the total population. The MacArthur poll is the latest in a long line of surveys that find the housing collapse didn’t throw cold water on the nation’s love affair with homeownership.
Not surprisingly, affordability looms large. More than half of Americans have had to sacrifice to to pay their housing bills as rents and and home prices rise faster than wages. But policymakers and the public are ambivalent on what to do about it, said Geoffrey Garin, president of Hart Research, which conducted the poll.
“From a public policy perspective, there’s been a lot of conversation about how do you make college more affordable, there’s been a focus on making health care more affordable, but there’s not been a similar conversation about housing,” Garin said. “What Americans are telling us through this research is that the absence of the discussion about housing is a substantial lapse. It deserves the same level of attention that the cost of education and the cost of health care deserve.”