A recent survey from AOL Real Estate and Zogby International probed Americans’ views on the constantly evolving real estate market, finding optimism in home ownership, despite current hardships.

More than half of the survey respondents said they believe home ownership is still attainable for most people, while 43 percent said they spend more than 30 percent of their household budget on housing, which according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates they are "cost burdened."

With so many Americans using a large percentage of their budget for housing, the survey found that 22 percent of participants would lose their house or apartment with an unexpected short-term job loss and 30 percent are working paycheck to paycheck to cover housing costs.

Also, 30 percent said they know someone who has gone through or is being forced to sell their home due to foreclosure, the survey found.

Despite the troubles some Americans are facing, 31 percent of participants said they feel their home is worth more today than it was a year ago, and 56 percent do not think their home will be worth less in five years.

Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said they see real estate as a viable investment. If forced to sell their home today, half would buy another home rather than rent; roughly half of respondents said they would seriously consider buying a home through a foreclosure listing.

The survey used a national sample of 6,678 adults ages 18 and older, and conducted interviews Feb. 15-18, 2008.

Interviewers also asked questions about how people search for homes, finding that 67 percent of respondents turn to the Internet first. Participants cited communities with low crime, high-quality schools, recreational facilities and an easy driving commute to work as key factors that influence a home purchase.

Some even said they are willing to pay a premium on top of their housing to reduce their commute time by half, the survey found.

Full results of the survey are available at this link at AOL Real Estate.


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