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NeighborWorks America National Housing Survey:

Research explores the meaning of ‘home’ and the challenges faced by consumers post-crisis


On Nov. 20, 2013, NeighborWorks America released highlights from its first national housing survey. Chief among the findings is that five years after the deepest housing crisis since the Great Depression – which triggered the foreclosure of nearly a million homes every year since – most adults have maintained a positive, but grounded, view of homeownership: While the vast majority (88 percent) said owning their own home is an important element of their “American dream,” a healthy 55 percent also said they would not feel any less successful if they did not.

Annually, NeighborWorks America helps its network of more than 235 locally based nonprofit organizations make homeownership a reality for more than 14,000 families every year. In addition, training provided to professionals from more than 3,500 groups that provide housing counseling and education puts an additional 100,000 consumers on the path to affordable and sustainable homeownership.

However, the need to further spread the word about the availability of nonprofit housing counseling is clear. Forty percent of survey respondents reported feeling less prepared to purchase a home than they were five years ago, and 75 percent described the home-buying process as “complicated.” Yet the most widely cited sources of information are “family and friends,” rather than professionals such as nonprofit housing counselors, who provide a full range of assistance such as credit assessment, budget planning and foreclosure intervention.

The survey also found a strong need, and support for, rental housing. Fifty-five percent of renters said they plan to continue to rent, and 25 percent of homeowners said that they were likely to consider renting instead of buying their next home following the foreclosure crisis. Likewise, 81 percent of renters said they feel as committed to their homes and communities as owners.

The NeighborWorks network owns and manages more than 102,000 rental units, and NeighborWorks America directly invests more than $15 million each year into the production and preservation of affordable rental housing.

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Survey methodology

Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, conducted the nationally representative survey among 1,000 U.S. adults Sept. 23-26, 2013. Respondents were contacted by telephone, and were selected using random digit dialing (RDD). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level, which means that 95 percent of the time, the results reflect the beliefs of the overall population of U.S. adults, plus or minus 3.1 percent.

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