A recent survey by Harris Interactive for the National Apartment Association found the vast majority (76 percent) of consumers — both homeowners and renters — think renting is better than owning a home in the current market, a 5 percentage point increase from 2008.

Most, 64 percent, cited lack of responsibility for repairs and maintenace as the primary advantage of renting, a jump from 57 percent in 2008. Half saw financial advantages to renting, up from 48 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

These financial advantages included not being susceptible to foreclosure and not being impacted by the shaky real estate market. Another advantage is mobility, the association said.

"The simple fact remains that in a bad economy, people must make whatever changes necessary to improve their situation, especially if they have lost their job," said Douglas Culkin, president of the National Apartment Association, in a statement.

"Sometimes this might mean moving to another city where there is more opportunity, and if you’re tied to a mortgage, you don’t have the same ease of mobility as you do if you lease your home."

Sixty percent of renters plan to keep renting their current residence or rent a new one within the next year. By contrast, 71 percent of homeowners said they would stay in their current home during that time. Only 12 percent of renters said they planned to buy a new home this year, down from 17 percent in 2008.

"The results are yet to be seen if the (federal homebuyer) tax-credit incentives worked, but the larger issue remains that pushing the idea of homeownership as the only way to achieve the American Dream is not a viable strategy for the future," Culkin said.

Custom market research firm Harris Interactive conducted the online survey May 3-5 among 2,160 U.S. adults. Of the respondents, 1,443 were homeowners and 617 were renters. The firm weighted the data to reflect the composition of the U.S. adult population.


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