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Americans want to buy property but fear foreclosure and unemployment

According to a new survey from Move Inc, 23% of adults, many of them who would be first time buyers, want to purchase. This shows that there is demand among this sector, the report says.

Of those who want to buy a property, 5.8% said they want to do so in the next 12 months, 12.8% in the next two years and 11% in two to five years.

There are also changing attitudes to buying a property. The survey found that about two thirds of property owners now consider their home primarily a place to live as opposed to an investment.

The Move survey also found nearly one out of five homeowners plan to take advantage of the US administration's new programme to help prevent foreclosures. While wading the waters of a severe economic downturn, 21% of all homeowners with a mortgage contacted a lender to restructure their loan over the past year.

The survey also found that 18.1% of homebuyers plan to buy this year in order to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit granted under the Economic Stimulus Plan. But nearly half said they didn't know about the credit and 29.3% said it wasn't large enough for them to act right now.

Opinion is split over whether the US government is doing enough to stabilize the property market, with 46.2% answering yes and 43.8% indicating no.

Unemployment is the driving factor causing many Americans to fear foreclosure. Over 27% of adults feel they or someone they know may default on their mortgage due to recent unemployment, future unemployment or because they owe more on their home than it's worth.

Determined to remain in their homes, 72% of adults have reduced spending in the past year in order to make monthly mortgage or rent payments, mostly by cutting discretionary spending such as holidays, entertainment and eating out.

Regardless of age, most Americans are cutting spending back from some aspect of their life to pay housing costs, according to the survey.

But it is not all doom and gloom, according to Move's CEO Steve Berkowitz. 'We found Americans are optimistic about homeownership despite concerns. They're doing everything they can, from reducing discretionary spending to pay their mortgages, to planning to take advantage of the administration's new program to stop foreclosures,' he said.