Realty Check

WSJ/NBC Poll: Is Housing 'Crisis' Blown All Out Of Proportion? photo composite

If I’m wrong, then I’m the first one to say it. But I have to say; I can’t believe I’m wrong about this. Given all the news, data, analysis, and sheer emotion of the current downturn in the housing market, you would think an awful lot of Americans would be worried, concerned, maybe a little, well, interested? Maybe not so much.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, (story written by blogger colleague John Harwood) that asks all kinds of questions about politics and the economy--asked a few questions on housing, because it’s been such a big story in the news lately. I was stunned at some of the responses: “Which one or two of the following elements of the economy, if any, concerns you the most?” Fourteen percent of respondents answered 'the cost of housing.’ It ranked 7th on the list, below the cost of education, health care, jobs going overseas, even the federal deficit. I mean, who spends nights worrying about the federal deficit? Ok, maybe I could name a few here in DC.

In answer to the question: “How worried are you that you will have difficulty making your mortgage payments over the next year?” Eight percent answered, “Very worried”, 7% “Fairly worried,” but 66% “Not worried at all.” Now the 15% that were worried was up from 9% in a 2001 poll, but still, it’s not that much, given everything we’ve been talking about with the subprime crisis and all the resetting adjustable rate mortgages.

And then there was the question of whether or not the federal government should take a more active oversight role in the area of lending practices in the housing market. 41% of respondents said yes, 47% said no, oversight should be done by companies and associations. Now when I asked the question on this very blog a few months ago, I got a resounding, “government stay out of it!!” answer. I don’t think I got one yes, government should get into the mortgage biz.

I try to cover my beat like a good soldier, report all that’s going on, the companies going out of business, the lenders tightening credit, Wall Street freaking out over incremental rumors in housing. And then I get stuff like this poll, and it makes me wonder: is anyone listening?

Questions?  Comments?