It would be hard to find an industry that has weathered the weak economy better than housing. Demand has held up, prices have risen 10% from a year ago, and homebuilders are busier than ever (see BW, 3/11/02, "The Homes Keep Selling" and "They Can't Build 'em Fast Enough"). Despite the risk of jinxing all that, it's tempting to claim that at the moment the real estate market appears recession-proof, a pleasant change from past economic slumps.
Of course, a hot market has its downside for buyers. The median price of a single-family home has reached $350,400 in Boston, $463,900 in San Francisco, and even $124,600 in the wide-open spaces of Dallas, where new homes traditionally sprout like weeds. That means buying a new house is becoming a stretch for many people. So at these prices, why are so many buyers still jumping in? That's one of the issues we want to explore in this BusinessWeek Online Reader Survey.
Please remember that this isn't a scientific poll, since it merely gathers the opinions of everyone who chooses to participate. Still, housing is a critical chunk of the economy, and your answers will help explain why it's doing so well. Please check back in a few days to see the results. Or you can tell us your e-mail (you'll have that chance after you complete the survey), and we'll send them to you. You can also catch the results on BusinessWeek TV on Sunday, Apr. 7. In the meantime, thanks for participating.
Here's the survey:
Do you currently own a home?
Do you think now is a good time to buy?
Do you think now is a good time to refinance a home?
I've already refinanced recently
I don't own a home
What's the best reason for refinancing now?
Lower the monthly mortgage payment
Borrow more money against the property
Shorten the term of the loan
I don't own a home
If you were to buy a home now, what would your primary reason be?
To invest in something safer than stocks
To take advantage of low mortgage interest rates
To buy before home prices go too high to afford
To capture the appreciation in a home you own now and use it to trade up or trade down
A simple need for shelter
If you were to buy a home today, what size down payment would you make as a percentage of the purchase price?
If you were to buy a home today, where would you get the down payment?
Stock market profits
Borrow from family and friends
Sell an existing home
I can't afford a house right now
What percentage of your gross monthly income are you willing to spend on a monthly mortgage payment?
If you bought a home today, how would you expect its value to change over the next five years?
Rise by 20% or more
Rise, but by less than 20%
Drop by less than 20%
Drop by 20% or more
How old are you?
25 to 29
30 to 34
35 to 39
40 to 44
45 to 49
50 to 54
55 or more