No one can deny the Great Recession left a permanent mark on our nation and its economy. But what effect did it have on the American Dream of home ownership? That’s the question we set out to answer by asking Phoenix-based Benchmark Research Technologies to survey nearly 1,700 Arizona new home shoppers about their attitudes surrounding home ownership in the post-recession era.
According to the survey results, the traditional notion of the American Dream of home ownership remains a primary goal for many, as some experts have speculated. Here is a sampling of key survey findings: the American Dream of home ownership survived the recession, the American Dream of home ownership is alive and well to 82 percent of the consumers polled.
When research participants were asked, “Do you believe the American Dream of home ownership is still relevant?,” a vast majority answered in the affirmative, including homeowners who were starting over after a recession-related loss, such as a short-sale or foreclosure.
Home ownership remains important
Another question asked was how the economy changed homeowners’ opinions about the importance of home ownership, in general. Respondents were asked to compare their beliefs now to those they held before the recession.
More than half — 60 percent — said the recession didn’t change their beliefs about the importance of home ownership at all. A quarter — 26 percent — said they felt home ownership was more important now than it was before, and 14 percent said it was less important now.
The recession increased some home-shoppers’ options
Many of those surveyed managed to find a silver lining in the recession. Slightly more than 25 percent answered the question “How has the recession impacted your efforts to buy a home?” by reporting their options had increased since the end of the economic downturn. This likely is due to a combination of downward pricing pressure and improving job stability.
At the other end of the spectrum, 16 percent of consumers said the recession caused them to put their home-buying plans on hold.
Not surprisingly, first-time buyers and current homeowners were two to three times more likely to believe the recession has increased their home-buying options compared with people who no longer own their pre-recession home.
The overall conclusion regarding the state of the post-recession American Dream? It appears to be right at home in the “new normal.”
• Andy Warren is president of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. He serves on the board of directors for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Greater Phoenix Leadership; as well as the board of directors and as an executive committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute.