Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bailout for Defaulted Homeowners? Not so Fast, says Survey

Americans are weighing in with opinions on bailouts and mortgages. Will Congress and the Obama Administration listen?

Here is the story:

Majority Opposes Using Bailout Funds to Help Defaulting Homeowners

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a new Congress and the incoming Obama Administration prepare to tackle record numbers of foreclosures that have depressed real estate values, a new national survey released today by the Reecon Advisory Report found that a majority of Americans, 51 percent, opposes using Federal bailout funds to help pay the mortgages of homeowners who are in default. Forty-three percent of those surveyed favor helping homeowners in trouble.

The survey found that opposition to using bailout money to help defaulters is greatest among men (58.3 percent), elderly (56.2 percent) and those living in the Northeast (56.1 percent). Support for helping defaulting homeowners is greatest among young people age 18 to 24 (69.1 percent) and those earning less than $20,000 a year (60.1 percent).

"These findings indicate that there are significant political barriers to proposals now being drafted in Congress to use some of the remaining $700 billion of bailout funds to help stem foreclosures by helping defaulting homeowners with their mortgages," said David Lereah, president of Reecon Advisors Inc., an independent real estate economics and information company.

"As a new Federal foreclosure policy unfolds in the months to come, public opinion will certainly play a central role. It's clear that people have strong opinions and a candid and vigorous debate will improve the chances for a successful outcome. The outcome could shape the real estate markets for many years to come," added Lereah.

The survey also found that consumer confidence in real estate is significantly higher than the stock market, despite the depression in property values. By a margin of 53.7 percent to 30.8 percent, those surveyed think real estate is a better long-term investment than the stock market, considering the current economic situation. Confidence in real estate is highest in the South (58.6 percent) and West (58.4 percent), and among young people 18 to 24 (63.8 percent). The stock market ranks highest with those age 35-49 (34.7 percent).

However, public opinion on whether the stock market or real estate will recover first is much more evenly split and falls within the survey's margin of error. Forty-six percent predict the stock market will recover first; 43.2 percent believe real estate will be first. Real estate ranked highest with young people 18 to 24 (57.3 percent) and Southerners (50.6 percent).

The telephone survey, by GFK Custom Research North America, was conducted December 19-21, 2008. A total of 1,004 interviews were completed, 524 with female adults and 480 with male adults. The margin of error on weighted data is +3 percentage points for the full sample. All completed interviews are weighted to ensure accurate and reliable representation of the total population, 18 years and older.

The poll is the first in a series of opinion surveys on issues critical to real estate markets to be conducted by Reecon Advisors, Inc. for the Reecon Advisory Report, a weekly newsletter being launched today, to provide insight, analysis and intelligence on residential real estate.

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