Home ownership dream slips in Georgia, survey finds

Existing debt is common issue

Friday, July 13, 2012 6:43 AM
Last updated 11:40 PM
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ATLANTA — A new survey shows that more than one in six Georgians are putting their hopes of home ownership on hold.

The survey, released this week by the Georgia Credit Union Association, shows that 17 percent of the 7,150 credit union members questioned early last month said that, while owning a home used to be important, it is no longer a current goal.

“It’s hard to tell if anything is long-term with the fluctuations in the economy these days,” said Anita Paul, the association’s spokeswoman. “It seems that consumers are remaining cautious for now as news about the job market, in particular, remains less than savory. Employment is a huge factor in home buying, so we’ll have to see what happens with the next jobs report.”

Georgia’s unemployment rate is 8.9 percent and has remained above the national average since the beginning of the last recession. The state has also suffered some of the worst declines in home prices and consistently ranked among states with the highest foreclosure rate.

“Certainly those factors impact people’s feelings about home ownership,” Paul said. “However, I would imagine that we might see consumers in other parts of the country with a similar shift in attitude about owning a home.”

In the Georgia survey, those postponing the American dream cited three factors. Pay cuts are stalling 38 percent, 48 percent cited attempts to pay down existing debt and uncertainty about the national economy accounted for 47 percent. For 2 percent, owning a home was never a goal.

Bill Boatman, the president of the Georgia Association of Realtors, said some young adults got spooked after having seen their parents lose money on property.

“I think a lot of them have taken home ownership off of the table,” said Boatman, a broker with Meybohm Realty in Augusta. “Some young people are not purchasing.”

Overall, he sees modest improvement across Georgia as families and investors are starting to take advantage of favorable prices despite the few that are waiting.

“I do think that’s a small percentage,” he said. “As Realtors, that concerns us because we feel strongly that home ownership really matters.”


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