Owning Home Retains Allure, Poll Shows Despite Fears of the Economy


Owning a house remains central to Americans’ sense of well-being, even as many doubt their home is a good investment after a punishing recession.

Nearly nine in 10 Americans say home ownership is an important part of the American dream, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. And they are keen on making sure it stays that way, for themselves and everyone else.

Support for helping people in financial distress over housing is higher than support for helping those without a job for many months.

Forty-five percent of the respondents say the government should be doing more to improve the housing market, while 16 percent say it should be doing less. On the politically contentious issue of direct financial assistance to those having trouble paying their mortgages, slightly more than half of those polled, 53 percent, say the government should help. And almost no one favors discontinuing the mortgage tax deduction, a prized middle-class benefit that has been featured on some budget-cutting proposals.

Making an offer for a house, something often done in past generations with little apprehension, is now riddled with worry. Only 49 percent call it a safe investment, while 45 percent feel it is risky. In a market where prices are consistently dropping, there is no easy exit.

“For the average person, it might not be a good idea today to buy,” said another respondent, Beth Lovcy of Troutdale, Ore., who bought a year ago. The value has already shrunk, but Mrs. Lovcy is unfazed. “It works out better financially than renting now because we can claim the interest on the mortgage.”

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