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National Mortgage Professional
Sep 08, 2006

Rising monthly payments serve as barrier to homeownershipMortgagePress.comNational Housing Opportunity Pulse, survey, National Association of Realtors One out of three Americans worries that rising monthly payments, especially property taxes and energy costs, will force him to sell his home and buy a less expensive one, according to the fourth annual National Housing Opportunity Pulse, a survey released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The survey also found that by a two to one margin, Americans believe that high monthly payments, rather than high down payments, are the greatest obstacle to buying a home. Rising property taxes are the leading concern associated with owning a home (34 percent), followed by increasing electrical, fuel and other energy costs (28 percent). Only 14 percent said rising mortgage interest rates would keep them from becoming homeowners. Its clear America is facing a crisis in housing opportunities, with nearly two-thirds of families concerned about being able to find a home they both like and can afford, said Thomas M. Stevens, 2006 NAR president and senior vice president of NRT Inc. Many families are struggling to meet the high cost of homeownership, and increasingly, those costs are property taxes and energy utilities. In 2003, the average monthly mortgage principal and interest payment was $840. In 2005, families were paying 23.8 percent more, or $1,040, monthly. In the past year alone, the average monthly mortgage principal and interest payment has gone up 11.5 percent, from $1,015 in April 2005 to $1,132 in April 2006. The Energy Information Administration estimates that in February 2006, the price of electricity was 12 percent higher than in February 2005, natural gas was up 28 percent and home heating oil was up 25 percent. State and local property taxes for the 2004 fiscal year averaged $1,121 per person, up 13.8 percent from fiscal year 2003 when the average was $985, and 15.7 percent higher than the $969 average for the 2002 fiscal year, according to the Census Bureau. The survey found that more than 42 percent of Americans cite the lack of affordable housing in their community as one of their top three concerns, following high energy costs (82 percent) and the lack of affordable health care (53 percent). Nearly a third worry that the cost of housing is so unaffordable that they will never be able to buy a home, and more than 58 percent are concerned that the cost of a home is becoming so unaffordable that it is hurting their local economy. Anywhere between one-fifth and one-third report not seeing as much of friends and family and not being as involved in their neighborhood as they would like. They also report missing out on promotions, having less productivity and cutting back on vacations because they have to work too much to pay for their homes or they dont have the money because of high home costs. The lack of affordable housing is also affecting renters. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans believe having enough money to pay rent every month is difficult for families in their community, up seven percent from last year. Support for affordable housing is high. Eight in 10 would be willing to support more affordable homes being made available for people in their community, and a record 68 percent would be more likely to vote for a candidate that worked to make housing more affordable in their area, up six percent in two years. People care about affordable housing, and a candidates position on this issue makes a significant difference to voters, said Stevens. Americans are increasingly looking to their community leaders to seek ways to take a more active role in addressing affordability issues in their communities. Most Americans are also increasingly concerned that their children or other family members will not be able to afford housing in their communities (57 percent) and that they and family members will be forced to live in less desirable areas because homes in more desirable areas are not affordable (46 percent). For more information, visit www.realtor.org.
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