American Dream of homeownership strong despite economic challenges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  February 6, 2012

Contact: Jon Broadbooks, 217-529-2600

American Dream of homeownership strong despite
economic challenges, new data show

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Economic turmoil has done little to sway Illinois residents from a belief that owning a home is a fundamental part of the American Dream, according to a survey released today by the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.

The data show that even after several years of economic downturns, a majority of those polled (75 percent) say they think buying a home is a far safer long-term investment than putting money in the stock market.

The poll’s findings come as Gov. Pat Quinn announced efforts in his State of the State speech to address issues relating to foreclosures and vacant and distressed properties in Illinois. Efforts are also under way at the federal level to help Americans realize the dream of buying or staying in a home.

The Illinois Association of REALTORS® survey included 600 homeowners and renters in the state. It revealed 82 percent of respondents said they believe homeownership is a key goal for Illinoisans. The poll was conducted Jan. 17-19 by Gainesville, Fla.-based Strategic Guidance Systems Inc., a national political consulting firm.

Among other key findings:

  • Most of those polled (54 percent) said banks should have stricter requirements for obtaining a mortgage, while 39 percent said banks should make loans more accessible.
  •  More than half (55 percent) said the government should make assistance available so homeowners don’t lose their homes. Thirty-four percent said government should stay out of the business of providing a safety net. 
  • Sixty-one percent of respondents said owning a home was better than renting.

“No matter how much economic uncertainty exists, the data would suggest that the dream of homeownership is deeply rooted and largely unshaken by the Great Recession,” said Loretta Alonzo, CRB, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and Broker-Owner of Century 21 Alonzo & Associates in La Grange Park. “As we begin the process of working our way out of a housing slump, this shows that the desire to buy a home isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.”

The survey gauged attitudes about the benefits of owning a home. Of those polled, 68 percent felt the feeling of having a “place of your own” was the greatest benefit. Sixty-nine percent saw homeownership as a means for family stability.

When asked about home values, 34 percent said prices would increase a lot or a little in the next five years, while 41 percent said they thought prices would stay the same. Nineteen percent said they thought home prices would decrease a little or a lot in the next five years.

The poll findings track with emerging housing data released by the Illinois Association of REALTORS® in January that showed home sales in the state were edging up in the final half of 2011, Alonzo said.

“We’re seeing growing consumer confidence, historically low interest rates and attractive home prices,” Alonzo said.  “It’s encouraging to see data that show how important homeownership is to Illinois residents.”

The Illinois Association of REALTORS® is a voluntary trade association whose 41,000 members are engaged in all facets of the real estate industry. In addition to serving the professional needs of its members, the Illinois Association of REALTORS® works to protect the rights of private property owners in the state by recommending and promoting legislation that safeguards and advances the interest of real property ownership.

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For more information: The Illinois Association of REALTORS® has several resources for media professionals seeking additional data:

  • The full results of the homeownership poll.
  • Housing market statistics can be found on our website
  • IAR’s January release on December 2011 and year-end 2011 housing statistics can be found here

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