Most Americans Against Using Bailout Funds to Help Homeowners

A new national survey released by Reecon Advisors, an independent real estate economics and information company, found that 51% of Americans opposes using Federal bailout funds to help pay the mortgages of homeowners who are in default. Of those surveyed, 43% favor helping homeowners in trouble.

The telephone survey, by GFK Custom Research North America, was conducted Dec. 19-21, 2008. A total of 1,004 interviews were completed, 524 with female adults and 480 with male adults.

The survey found that opposition to using bailout money to help defaulters is greatest among men (58.3%), elderly (56.2%) and those living in the northeast (56.1%). Support for helping defaulting homeowners is greatest among young people age 18 to 24 (69.1%) and those earning less than $20,000 a year (60.1%).

"These findings indicate that there are significant political barriers to proposals now being drafted in Congress to use some of the remaining $700 billion of bailout funds to help stem foreclosures by helping defaulting homeowners with their mortgages," said David Lereah, president of Reecon. "As a new Federal foreclosure policy unfolds in the months to come, public opinion will certainly play a central role. It's clear that people have strong opinions and a candid and vigorous debate will improve the chances for a successful outcome. The outcome could shape the real estate markets for many years to come," Mr. Lereah added.

The survey also found that consumer confidence in real estate is significantly higher than the stock market, despite the depression in property values. By a margin of 53.7% to 30.8%, those surveyed think real estate is a better long-term investment than the stock market, considering the current economic situation. Confidence in real estate is highest in the south (58.6%) and west (58.4%), and among young people 18 to 24 (63.8%). The stock market ranks highest with those age 35-49 (34.7%).

However, public opinion on whether the stock market or real estate will recover first is much more evenly split and falls within the survey's margin of error. Of those surveyed, 46% predict the stock market will recover first; 43.2% believe real estate will be first. Real estate ranked highest with young people 18 to 24 (57.3%) and southerners (50.6%).