According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), owning your home still remains “essential to the American Dream.” A recent survey backed by the NAHB found that Americans “see beyond the immediate housing market to the enduring value of homeownership.” NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen reports that 75 percent of those polled said owning a home is worth the market fluctuations. Plus, a healthy 95 percent of homeowners say they are happy with their decision to own.
Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners says, “People believe overwhelmingly that owning a home is an anchor to the American Dream. It’s an anchor to your retirement, and it’s an anchor to your personal economic well-being.” She noted that owning a home is more than just a commodity, it’s a core value.
Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, had more somber news to report last week at the International Monetary Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite historically affordable home values, many buyers are unable to access financing due to tightened lending standards. Many feel reluctant to enter the market at all due to the uncertainty of the job market. Bernanke reports that nearly all segments of the construction industry remain “troubled.”
Bernanke reports, “The housing sector typically plays an important role in economic recoveries; the depressed state of housing in the United States is a big reason that the current recovery is less vigorous than we would like.”
Overall, economic growth in the U.S. is much slower than expected. Although there have been recent setbacks in the number of jobs added to the market, there has been marked progress from the low of the recession.
“The U.S. economy is recovering from both the worst financial crisis and the most severe housing bust since the Great Depression, and it faces additional headwinds ranging from the effects of the Japanese disaster to global pressures in commodity markets,” Bernanke says. “In this context, monetary policy cannot be a panacea. Still, the Federal Reserve’s actions in recent years have doubtless helped stabilize the financial system, ease credit and financial conditions, guard against deflation, and promote economic recovery. All of this has been accomplished … at no net cost to the federal budget or to the U.S. taxpayer.”
According to John Cassidy, a contributor to Fortune magazine, there are five key bright spots to the market, followed by their negative counterpart. First, corporate profits are surging, but no one is hiring. Second, homes are affordable even though few people are buying. Third, the stock market continues to rally, but few feel richer. Fourth, household wealth is up, while finances are fragile. And finally, manufacturing has recovered, but this may not last.
It’s a mixed bag across all economic sectors. Housing is not the only market to be struggling to recover. Small improvements are being made across many areas, and hopefully this trend with spread to harder hit areas of the nation.
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Jon Mahoney is the Director for the Luxury Homes Division with Keller Williams Santa Barbara.