BAM Key Details: 

  • According to a recent Fannie Mae blog, consumer aspirations to homeownership remains strong in spite of elevated mortgage rates, high home prices, and limited inventory. 
  • For 87% of consumers, living the good life includes owning a home. 

The vast majority of U.S. consumers still see homeownership as an important part of “living the good life.” And that’s in spite of mortgage rates near 7%, elevated home prices, and a severe shortage of affordable homes. 

A recent Fannie Mae blog by Steve Deggendorf and Kevin Tillmann shared the highlights of their latest report on the results of a survey conducted by the Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group in the fourth quarter of 2022—and how they compare with the results for Q4 2020. 

That survey revealed how consumers rank homeownership compared to ten other top priorities. 

Eighty-seven percent of consumers ranked being homeowners as “very important” putting it at number six, between “having good friends” (90%) and “having a happy marriage or romantic relationship” (86%). 

Fannie-Mae-important-factors-the-good life-chart

Source: Fannie Mae

Not much has really changed over the past couple of years when it comes to the consumer’s idea of living the good life. But there are some interesting developments across demographic groups. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Homeownership aspirations across race

Just as in 2020, consumers ranked financial security and good health at the top of the list, with 2020 respondents ranking “good health” slightly higher than in 2022. 

Owning a home ranked at number six with 86% of respondents—in both 2020 and 2022—saying it’s very important to living “the good life.” And more than double consider owning a home to be more important than having nice things like cars, electronics, jewelry or clothing, with 36% of respondents considering this important. 

Looking at the data across race and homeownership lines, a higher share of Hispanic renters (92%) consider homeownership to be important than Black renters (79%) and White renters (74%). 


Source: Fannie Mae

The benefits of homeownership

Asked about the benefits—both financial and non-financial—of owning a home versus renting, respondents across the board overwhelmingly preferred homeownership to renting, indicating its superiority in every aspect listed.

The top three benefits:

  • The freedom to do what you want with your living space (94%)
  • Greater sense of privacy and security (91%)
  • Living in a more family-friendly or kid-friendly environment (90%)

All of those percentages are consistent with the results from the 2020 survey. 

While “having less stress” took last place on the list, it still had 66% of respondents—10% more than in 2020—choosing it as a top benefit of homeownership over renting


Source: Fannie Mae

In fact, the association between owning a home and having less stress was one of the biggest differences between the two data sets. And it was especially true among renters (60% in 2022—up from 40% in 2020), possibly due to the significant increases in rents that many have experienced over the last two years. 

And, to be fair, having a fixed mortgage payment sounds less stressful than wondering, at the end of your lease, how much more you’ll have to pay per month to stay in the same rental

Plus, many associate homeownership with a greater sense of privacy and security, which also makes for less stress—especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Also significant is the increase in the number of Black consumers indicating “living in a place where you and your family feel safe” as a benefit of owning your home—from 72% in 2020 to 88% in 2022, growing by 16 percentage points. 

The share of the general population indicating the same thing also increased from 2020 to 2022 but only by five percentage points (83% to 88%). 

Homeownership as an investment 

Fannie Mae’s research shows relative stability in consumer perception of homes as an investment, with continued confidence since 2010 when this research began. Among homeowners, 76% (in 2022) saw buying a home as a safe investment—compared to 59% of renters, who tended to be a bit more skeptical. 

Both groups were more closely aligned in their belief that homeownership has a lot of potential as an investment, with 75% of homeowners and 70% of renters indicating as much. 


Source: Fannie Mae

Given the general turbulence in the financial market during the survey period, it’s not surprising that consumer confidence in the safety of different investment vehicles—including real estate, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and money market/savings accounts—fell compared to Q4 2020.

Data for this survey was collected several months before the very public collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, which could further diminish consumer confidence in banking and any investment opportunities tied to it. 

That said, as the following Tweets show, Americans still see homeownership as a worthwhile investment—towering over gold, stocks, savings accounts, and government bonds. 

The resilience of consumer aspirations to homeownership

With so many housing economists, including Fannie Mae, expecting a recession, the strength of consumer confidence in homeownership as the preeminent investment option deserves some recognition—especially given the economic uncertainty we’ve lived with over the past three years. 

As the survey data shows, many consumers see homeownership as a means to greater financial security, which ranks as the number one factor associated with the “good life.” 

Perception of homeownership as a leading source of financial benefits has persisted since at least 2010 when Fannie Mae first conducted its National Housing Survey

Based on its survey results—and the general consistency of consumer attitudes toward homeownership—Fannie Mae expects continued confidence in its value as an investment, despite the possibility of a recession. 

Read the full report for more details. 

Takeaways for real estate agents

Overall, consumers still tend to view homeownership as an important part of “living the dream,” both for its financial and non-financial benefits. 

Get familiar with the benefits your clients and prospects value most, so you can deliver the information most relevant to them, as well as any market data that could affect their decision. 

Be the resource they need to get closer to living the “good life” as homeowners.