Homeownership Still Top Priority for Americans

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIA

Americans still consider owning a home essential to the American Dream, and Washington policymakers would be wise to keep this in mind in the coming election season.

Proof of this statement is evident in a poll conducted earlier this year on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va. and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C. This national poll reached 2,000 likely voters and asked them about their attitudes regarding home-ownership and housing policy. The results could not be clearer.

Despite the ups and downs of the housing market, and whether or not they currently own a home, voters overwhelmingly indicated they place a high value on homeownership as a core achievement in their lives. Of the poll respondents who are current homeowners, nearly all of them, or 95 percent, said they are happy with owning a home, and believe such a decision is important. Almost three-quarters of the respondents who don’t own a home said it is a goal of theirs to eventually buy one.

Equally telling, voters rated the importance of homeownership just as highly as the importance of being successful at their job or being able to pay for a family member’s education.

“The bottom line is, even after years of economic turmoil and an unprecedented and prolonged downturn in the housing market, homeownership is still a central goal for most Americans,” said Jim Byxbee, president of Homeworks Construction and 2011 BIA-Hawaii president. “It’s an undeniably deep emotional attachment that can’t be ignored by the politicians who are looking to address budget issues by cutting housing incentives in the tax code such as the mortgage interest deduction.”

Americans also feel strongly about the financial benefits, and challenges of homeowner-ship. Poll respondents said they considered owning a home their best investment, more than their retirement savings program or stock market investments. And 75 percent said that owning a home is worth facing the potential ups and downs of the housing market. Meanwhile, non-owners identified saving enough money for a down payment and closing costs as the No. 1 barrier keeping them from homeowner-ship, more than job uncertainty or concerns that the value of their home may drop below the purchase price.

“Lawmakers need to put themselves in the shoes of the average American, and see that excessive down payment requirements and a reduction in housing tax incentives will keep homeownership out of reach for most first-time home buyers and many middle-class households,” said Byxbee. “This would be a fatal blow to the American Dream for many, many families.”

To learn more about homeownership and housing policy in Hawaii, the latest trends in residential construction and the upcoming 55th annual BIA Parade of Homes in October, contact BIA-Hawaii at www.biahawaii.org.

Karen Nakamura is executive vice president /CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.