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 More consumers are open to the federal government stepping up its role overseeing mortgage and lending practices, according to the 2008 National Housing Pulse Survey, an annual survey released by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

More than half (56 percent) of those surveyed said they favor the federal government taking a more active oversight role, while 38 percent prefer that private companies oversee their businesses. That is a marked shift from the 2007 survey, which showed respondents were more evenly split on the issue of government involvement.

Fewer People Worried About Affordable Housing

The survey also revealed that concerns about a dearth of affordable housing are the lowest they’ve been in six years of polling.

“The survey clearly shows that falling home prices have improved housing affordability, allowing many Americans—some of whom may have been priced out of the market a few years ago—to achieve the dream of homeownership,” said president of the National Association of REALTORS, Dick Gaylord.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they were concerned about a lack of affordable housing, down from 48 percent last year and 51 percent the year before that.

Consumer Not Happy About Economy

Nearly eight out of 10 consumers said they think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and a majority (55 percent) said the current state of the economy is poor. Survey respondents don’t expect to see improvement in the economy anytime soon either; more than two-thirds believe the economy will stay about the same or get worse over the next year.

Regarding the economy, Americans are most concerned about high energy costs including gasoline and utilities, followed by inflation and higher priced staples such as groceries, increased health care costs, job security and reduced wages, as well as challenges in the housing market, including foreclosures and reduced home values.

Buying a Home Still Considered Smart Move

Despite troubles with the economy and difficult housing news, Americans remain surprisingly confident about the housing market. Eighty-five percent of respondents believe buying a home is a good financial decision, down 2 percent from last year. Two-thirds of Americans believe now is a good time to buy a home, up nearly 12 percent from 2007.

“Homeownership offers immediate benefits and long-term value, and despite recent slowdowns in some markets, consumers continue to believe that now is a good time to buy a home,” Gaylord said.

Source: Survey by National Association of REALTORS Housing Opportunity Program.

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