According to a study released by Fannie Mae, most Americans strongly desire to own homes and maintain homeownership, but a number of factors, including financial caution and shrinking households, continue to contribute to willingness to rent.

"Despite Americans’ strong desire to own their homes, our study reveals that life events are greatly influencing families’ decision to rent," said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae VP and chief economist. "This trend, coupled with the housing crisis, has caused consumers to approach homeownership with greater caution and thoughtfulness."

The Fannie Mae 2010 Own-Rent Analysis is based on research wit homeowners and renters (including focus groups and a quantitative survey) during July and August 2010, U.S. Census Bureau data, and micro-and macro- economic parameters. According to the study findings, 51 percent of current owners and renters say the housing crisis has not affected their overall willingness to buy a home over the long term, but Americans have near-term doubts about buying.

Overall, according to Fannie Mae, one-third of Americans (33 percent) would be more likely to rent their next home than buy, up from 30 percent in January 2010. Among renters, 59 percent said they would continue to rent compared to 54 percent in January 2010.

Shifting U.S. demographic and lifestyle trends, including shrinking numbers of married couples and fewer households with children, correlate to housing decisions that may have long-term implications for the housing market, according to Fannie Mae’s research analysis.

"The data in the analysis aligns with what we’re seeing in the market," said Ken Bacon, EVP of Fannie Mae’s multifamily mortgage business. "More Americans are viewing rental housing as an attractive and sustainable housing option. As a result, we remain focused on helping America’s working families-many of whom have incomes at or below the median in their communities-live in quality, sustainable, affordable rental housing."

The study also revealed that the majority of homeowners (89 percent) and nearly half of renters (44 percent) say they would be better off owning their homes given their current financial situations.

Market research firm Penn Schoen Berland, in partnership with Oliver Wyman, conducted telephone survey interviews with 2, 041 members of the United States general population, plus 1,566 additional respondent from geographic areas of interest, to complete the study, which compares current consumer actions, attitudes, and financial considerations with historical consumer behaviors, market experience, and economic conditions.

***Courtesy of 12/13/2010