The FINANCIAL — While Washington policy makers continue to fret about the troubled housing market, most Americans remain opposed to government intervention in that sector of the economy.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that one-in-three Adults (33%) think the government should encourage home ownership through incentives, but 56% say the government should stay out of the housing market all together. Three percent (3%) believe the government should actively discourage home ownership.
There's virtually no difference of opinion on this question between homeowners and those who do not own homes.
"Opposition to government intervention shows little change from early February but is down seven points from late September 2009 when 63% felt that way," Rasmussen Reports informs.
Although the government's first-time home buyers credit program expired in April, 43% of Americans say making it easier for people to buy their first home is more important than keeping the value of existing homes as high as possible. Nearly as many (38%) feel keeping up existing values is more important. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure. Americans have been closely divided on this question since early last year.
Existing homeowners, not surprisingly, put more emphasis on keeping up existing home values – by a 47% to 38% margin.
Short-term confidence in the U.S. housing market has fallen back to the level it was at the beginning of the year, and long-term confidence is at its lowest point in over 18 months.
(Want a free daily e-mail update If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.
The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on August 12-13, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
The federal government now controls an overwhelming 90 percent of the country’s mortgage market between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Authority. Rescue funding for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has cost taxpayers more than $148 billion so far. The Obama White House is rumored to be considering a partial mortgage forgiveness plan to help those who owe more than their homes are worth, but just 28% of voters favor such a proposal.
Most Republicans (74%) and voters not affiliated with either major political party (58%) say the government should stay out of the housing market. A plurality (47%) of Democrats feel the government should encourage home ownership through incentives.
Eighty-six percent (86%) of homeowners believe mortgage interest on a primary residence should continue to be deductable for income tax purposes, a view shared by 79% of all Americans.
Forty-eight percent (48%) of adults also think rent paid for a primary residence should be deductible on incomes taxes. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree, and 22% more are undecided. Homeowners are almost evenly divided on this idea, but 58% of non-homeowners favor it.
Most Americans liked the idea of providing tax credits for first-time home buyers but were less enthusiastic when the price tag was included.
In early July, one-in-seven homeowners (14%) said they are at least somewhat likely to miss or be late with a mortgage payment in the next six months.
Still, 51% of Americans continue to believe a home is the best investment families can make, but that’s down 12 points from December 2008 and 28 points since the summer of 2008.