Be It Ever So Humble, It Wouldn’t Be Easy to Buy Anew

Most Americans like their homes. They just wish they could afford them. In a new study by the Fannie Mae Foundation, 41 percent of adults said their current residence is “a great place to live,” and 43 percent called it a “good place.” Scarcely any rated it as “barely passable” (2 percent) or “not a good place at all” (1 percent). Respondents were similarly positive about the neighborhood they inhabit: 37 percent said it’s a great place to live, and 44 percent rated it as a good place; 3 percent said it’s barely passable and 1 percent said it’s not a good place at all. Moreover, the number who expect things in their area to get “much better” (13 percent) or “somewhat better” (24 percent) in the next 10 years easily exceeds those expecting things to get “somewhat worse” (17 percent) or “much worse”(8 percent). So far, so good. The bad news in the study is that large numbers of Americans would find it difficult to find affordable housing if they had to do it right now. Although 76 percent found it financially easy to obtain their current residence, 60 percent said they would find it more difficult to do so today—including 35 percent who’d find it “much more difficult.” And it’s not as though everyone expects to stay put: 28 percent think it’s “very likely” they’ll move in the next few years, and 15 percent consider it “somewhat likely.” Let’s hope those who relocate include lots of the 21 percent of respondents who strongly agreed with the statement, “I thought I would be living in a much nicer place at this point in my life.” What factors would most influence a consumer’s choice of a new residence? The foremost characteristic was “the safety of the neighborhood” (cited by 40 percent), followed by “economic conditions in the area” (20 percent), “the quality of housing that’s available” (17 percent) and “the quality of the local education system” (14 percent).