More than half of Americans are worried about not having enough money to pay their mortgage or rent, according to a survey from the Washington Post released today.
A third of respondents were "very concerned" about their ability to make housing payments, while a fifth were "somewhat concerned," adding up to 53 percent of respondents. This contrasts to the results of similar surveys the newspaper conducted in February 2009 and December 2008.
In the 2008 survey, 37 percent of respondents said they were at least "somewhat concerned" about making their housing payments. By February 2009, that figure had risen to 46 percent.
Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the survey for the Washington Post Oct.21-24. The company interviewed a random national sample of 1,006 adults on both conventional and mobile phones. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
"The poll results highlight the political challenge facing the Obama administration: Despite committing hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out troubled financial firms, create jobs and keep distressed borrowers in their homes, it has not been able to make many people feel better about their personal situations or even relieve fears about the cost of a need as basic as shelter," the paper said in an article about the survey results.
In the latest survey, 15 percent of respondents said they were "not so concerned," while 28 percent said they were "not at all concerned." The remaining 4 percent either had no opinion or said the question did not apply to them.
Those with household incomes lower than $30,000 were twice as likely to be worried as those with incomes of $75,000 or more. Three-quarters of African Americans were concerned; 55 percent were "very concerned," the paper said.
The majority of respondents’ views about a national foreclosure freeze in the wake of the so-called robo-signing scandal contrasted with those of the Obama administration, which does not support a federal moratorium. When asked if the administration should impose a period of time during which banks cannot foreclose on delinquent mortgages, 52 percent of respondents said it should, while 34 percent said it should not. The rest had no opinion.
"Americans’ views about a moratorium are intertwined with their concerns about their personal finances and the economy. Those who are concerned about being able to make their payments are more likely to back the idea of a moratorium," the paper said.
Opinions about whether homeowners or mortgage lenders are more to blame for homeowners’ challenge in making payments and avoiding foreclosure haven’t changed much since a September 2007 poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC.
The Washington Post survey found that 45 percent of respondents blamed lenders more, 26 percent blamed homeowners more, and 20 percent said they were equally at fault. The remaining 8 percent were split evenly between those who said neither were most to blame and those who had no opinion.
The 2007 WSJ-NBC poll found 48 percent blamed lenders more, 27 blamed homeowners more, and 22 percent said they were equally responsible.
Despite concerns about the economy, the majority of respondents, 61 percent, said that now was a good time to buy a home. Twenty-nine percent said it was a bad time to buy, and 10 percent had no opinion.