A small survey of more than 1,000 U.S. home buyers found that buyers expect their home values to appreciate despite concerns about softening real estate markets.

And asked which facet of the home-buying process needs most improvement, most respondents cited the large amount of paper involved and the amount — or lack of — communication in the transaction.

The survey, conducted by national title insurance underwriter Stewart Title Guaranty Co., questioned home buyers following closings in the last eight business days of March 2006. A total of 1,125 surveys were returned from both first-time and repeat home buyers, the company said.

Specific findings of the survey include:

— When asked how more valuable they expected their home to be in one year from the date of closing, no home buyers anticipated that their property would decline in value. The median value increase estimate was 10 percent for both first-time and repeat home buyers. This figure is in line with the national average as reported by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which found a one-year 12.95 percent average increase in housing values for 2005.

— Buyers rated each of the transaction service providers (lenders, real estate agents and title) extremely high. Respondents were asked to assign a grade rating of either A (excellent), B, C (average), D or F (unsatisfactory). The rankings were converted to a grade point average where A is a 4.0 and F is a 0.0.

The title grade overall was a 3.87 GPA, with 88 percent of respondents giving an excellent score. Real estate agents were rated excellent by 85 percent of all buyers, with an overall score of 3.79 GPA, and lenders received a 3.57 GPA with 73.1 percent of home buyers assigning an excellent rating.

The survey’s executive summary, instrument and complete customer comments may be found online at http://www.stewart.com/page.jsp?pageID=1516.

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