A majority of Americans think now is a good time to buy a home, although few believe the U.S. economy can escape a recession, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released Wednesday.
The survey of 1,049 likely voters found that 53.8 percent thought this was a good buying opportunity as home prices have fallen sharply in many parts of the country. Some 41.6 percent said it was not a good time to buy, and the rest were unsure.
The tumbling housing market is at the root of the U.S. economic and financial sector woes. Rising defaults among subprime borrowers triggered the first wave of credit market turmoil last year, which quickly spread to a wide range of assets.
Banks have recorded more than $200 billion in losses tied to failing mortgages and other loans, restricting their ability to lend to consumers and companies and slowing the economy. Nearly 71 percent of those polled thought the U.S. economy was in recession.
The poll, conducted April 10-12, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Economists have worried that even after sharp price declines, potential buyers would still shy away from the housing market for fear of further drops.
Recent reports have given a mixed picture of housing demand, with sales of new single-family homes falling 1.8 percent in February, while existing homes rose in February for the first time since July as prices posted a record drop. Later Wednesday, the Commerce Department will release its latest reading on home building projects started.
While economists said it was unlikely the housing market had reached a bottom, some have grown cautiously optimistic that it was finally nearing the end of its slump.
Home builders do not seem to share that optimism. Home builder sentiment hovered near all-time lows in April, with early spring shopping not yet boosting sales of new homes, the National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday.