The American dream of homeownership is alive and well even after the battering prices and budgets took during the housing crisis, according to a survey released by Chase. A total of 87 percent of respondents said owning their home is something they have always wanted. "Owning a home is at the heart of most Americans' dreams," said Kevin Watters, chief executive officer of mortgage banking at Chase. "And people are saving as much as possible to achieve homeownership." While 66 percent believe housing is a good financial investment, 75 percent see it as an important part of raising a family. "Owning a home will not only give my husband and me pride and roots, but it will also bring pride in my children and respect from my friends and family," said one respondent. Potential homebuyers are gaining confidence. Compared to six months ago, nearly twice as many potential first-time buyers are optimistic about being able to save for a down payment over the next six months. Overall, 56 percent of consumers expect their finances to improve over the next six months while only 8 percent expect them to worsen. "First-time home buyers are crucial to the housing market and the overall economy - and to their communities," Watters said. "As families buy their first home, they are investing in their communities and enable other families to move up. That will eventually spur more new construction, generating additional jobs." Other findings include: ►Twice as many consumers who refinanced plan on spending more over the next six months than those who did not refinance. ►Sixty-eight percent of renters want to own a home, but cite saving money to purchase a home as becoming increasingly difficult. While pulling together a downpayment has always been challenging, tighter requirements have raised the hurdle. ►Sixty percent of homeowners plan to invest in improving their property in the next year.