"The five-year swoon in home prices has done little to shake the confidence of the American public in the investment value of homeownership."
That's the key finding of a new nationwide Pew Research Center survey that queried about 2,140 adults in late March.
Indeed, more than 80 percent of those polled said buying a home was "the best long-term investment" a person could make, though the intensity of that faith wasn't as strong as another poll found it to be 20 years ago.
Even so, "confidence at any level these days is notable," given that the U.S. housing market has been mired in a long and deep decline, the researchers observed in a statement.
Homeowners certainly weren't oblivious to the plunge in home prices, nor did they expect a speedy recovery, according to the survey's results. Almost half of the roughly 1,220 homeowners surveyed said their home was worth less now than it was before the recession. Thirty-one percent said their home had retained its value. Only 17 percent said their home was now worth more.
Of those who said their home was worth less, 86 percent expected to wait three years for values to recover. Forty-two percent expected a six-year wait. Ten percent thought a full housing recovery would take a decade or longer.
Still, 82 percent of those same homeowners said they believed either strongly or somewhat strongly that a home was the best long-term investment. Renters were less convinced, but a large proportion of them also agreed with the proposition. Eighty-one percent said they'd prefer to buy a home now or in the future. Only 24 percent said they were renters by choice.
Skeptics may find these results puzzling, since a wait of three, six, or -- wow! -- 10 years just to break even doesn't seem like an indication of a good investment.
The answer may be that homeowners are simply a very patient and long-term thinking bunch, operating on the belief that their home is bound to pay off one way or another, even if later, rather than sooner.
Or perhaps it's only wishful thinking.
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