Young people's attitudes toward buying houses and saving

Young people are again thinking of the homes they may be purchasing as ''residences'' and not as ''investment possibilities,'' says Mary Powers, director of consumer research for the Good Housekeeping Institute in New York.

The idea of buying a house for quick resale and easy profit (as one would stocks or bonds) has changed, according to the institute's surveys. Now, she says, ''the more prevalent attitude is not moving on, but holding on - holding on to jobs and holding on to homes, and often remodeling and fixing up what you already own.

Miss Powers frequently makes small-scale studies and surveys of that vast group of middle-income Americans located in 10 to 20 major housing market areas around the United States. After talking with many potential home buyers in the under-35 age bracket, she shared some of her samplings with builders at the recent convention of the National Association of Home Builders. These included the following: Chief worries with the under-35 group, as with their elders, are the economy and unemployment.

When asked if they were currently able to set aside money for savings, 65 percent said they were. Many said that maintaining their savings accounts was their prime objective, with the purchase of real estate second.

Asked what they would like to see the housing industry do for young potential buyers, they said, price the houses so we can afford them. Build smaller, more affordable starter homes, but build quality into them.

Asked how they would advise other young couples just starting out, 77 percent replied, buy a small starter house instead of a dream home. Thirty-three percent said they would advise buying an older house and then remodeling or renovating it. Many advised others to borrow money from their families; that is easier than from the banks.

Some said they would advise other couples to plan permanently on living on two paychecks and give up the whole idea of having children; others said that both spouses should continue working even if they had children. On the other hand, a few said they would advise young couples not to depend on a two-paycheck household to carry the house payments because one paycheck might suddenly be deleted.

Most said they would advise others ''not to get in over your head,'' the survey reported. ''Look around before you decide on a house. Save up for as large a down payment as you can manage, but buy a house as soon as you can. Wait for a good deal and don't jump in just because you like something about the first house you see. Watch out for hidden costs, and don't assume that the first price you hear is going to be the total cost.''

Miss Powers finds this under-35 segment of the market very cautious but guardedly optimistic. ''They are looking for real improvement in the economy but they want to know everything they possibly can before spending their money. They are interested in facts, facts, facts. And they are voracious readers about homes and their maintenance and furnishings.

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