Americans say jobs key to keeping home: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans are cash-strapped and many say if they lost their jobs, they would lose their homes, according to a survey published on Tuesday by AOL Real Estate and Zogby International.

Many Americans are using a large portion of their budget for housing, and 43 percent of those surveyed in mid-February said they spend more than the generally recommended 30 percent of household income for housing.

The survey found that 22 percent of respondents would lose their house or apartment with an unexpected short-term job loss, and 30 percent are working paycheck to paycheck to cover housing costs.

“There is definitely a lot of pressure and stress on American households right now,” said Alan Steel, general manager of AOL Real Estate.

Thirty percent of respondents said they know someone who has gone through or is being forced to sell their home due to a foreclosure.

“In this environment too many people are passive and maybe deny things, but with all the headlines these days everyone should get really smart about their own situation and figure out what they can do,” Steel said.

Despite the headlines about housing troubles, 31 percent of respondents believe their homes are worth more than they were a year ago and 56 percent do not think their home will be worth less in five years.

This optimism continues, with 69 percent of Americans seeing real estate as a viable investment. If forced to sell their home today, half would buy another home rather than rent.

They also would also prefer to use their computers when house shopping, with 67 percent turning to the Internet first when looking for a home.

For those not interested in selling or purchasing a home this year, 16 percent said they were planning a major home remodeling project.

Interviews for the AOL Real Estate-Zogby International survey were conducted among a national sample of 6,678 adults ages 18 and older, conducted February 15-18.

Members of the online Internet panel were recruited by Zogby. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Reporting by Julie Haviv; Editing by Dan Grebler