What's Holding Up Housing?


It would be hard to find an industry that has weathered the weak economy better than housing. Demand has held up, prices have risen 10% from a year ago, and homebuilders are busier than ever (see BW, 3/11/02, "The Homes Keep Selling" and "They Can't Build 'em Fast Enough"). Despite the risk of jinxing all that, it's tempting to claim that at the moment the real estate market appears recession-proof, a pleasant change from past economic slumps.

Of course, a hot market has its downside for buyers. The median price of a single-family home has reached $350,400 in Boston, $463,900 in San Francisco, and even $124,600 in the wide-open spaces of Dallas, where new homes traditionally sprout like weeds. That means buying a new house is becoming a stretch for many people. So at these prices, why are so many buyers still jumping in? That's one of the issues we want to explore in this BusinessWeek Online Reader Survey.

Please remember that this isn't a scientific poll, since it merely gathers the opinions of everyone who chooses to participate. Still, housing is a critical chunk of the economy, and your answers will help explain why it's doing so well. Please check back in a few days to see the results. Or you can tell us your e-mail (you'll have that chance after you complete the survey), and we'll send them to you. You can also catch the results on BusinessWeek TV on Sunday, Apr. 7. In the meantime, thanks for participating.

Here's the survey:

Do you currently own a home?

Yes

No

Do you think now is a good time to buy?

Yes

No

Maybe

Don't know

Do you think now is a good time to refinance a home?

Yes

No

I've already refinanced recently

I don't own a home

What's the best reason for refinancing now?

Lower the monthly mortgage payment

Borrow more money against the property

Shorten the term of the loan

I don't own a home

Not sure

If you were to buy a home now, what would your primary reason be?

To invest in something safer than stocks

To take advantage of low mortgage interest rates

To buy before home prices go too high to afford

To capture the appreciation in a home you own now and use it to trade up or trade down

A simple need for shelter

If you were to buy a home today, what size down payment would you make as a percentage of the purchase price?

50%

30%

20%

10%

5%

0%

If you were to buy a home today, where would you get the down payment?

Savings

Stock market profits

Borrow from family and friends

Sell an existing home

I can't afford a house right now

Not sure

What percentage of your gross monthly income are you willing to spend on a monthly mortgage payment?

20%

30%

40%

50%

Other

Not sure

If you bought a home today, how would you expect its value to change over the next five years?

Rise by 20% or more

Rise, but by less than 20%

Remain stable

Drop by less than 20%

Drop by 20% or more

Other

Don't know

How old are you?

25 to 29

30 to 34

35 to 39

40 to 44

45 to 49

50 to 54

55 or more

Other


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