Homeownership is still a vital part of the American Dream, and a goal that most Americans strive to obtain as adults.  Even during a time when it is difficult for some Americans to qualify for a mortgage, the United States will not become a nation of renters, according to the National Association of Realtors®, (NAR). Today, more than 65% of Americans are homeowners, a rate that has remained unchanged since the 1960s.

It is the majority of the country’s belief that owning a home offers financial benefits. According to the most recent information from the Federal Reserve Board, a homeowner’s net worth is almost 46 times that of a renter’s net worth.

People who are planning to stay in a property over the long term can benefit from buying as opposed to renting. Though home prices have declined recently, historically prices have risen over the long term.  And through home ownership, consumers build equity and build upon their credit rating. For many, homeownership can truly be a self-imposed savings plan.

And right now, buying a home has never been more affordable; recent studies show that all 50 states are at 30-year record levels of affordability, based on mortgage-to-income ratios. In fact, in each quarter of 2010 and 2011, the national Home Affordability Index surpassed 70%. That’s a noteworthy statistic because, before reaching that number, home affordability rarely topped 60% nationwide.

Several surveys and forecasts say the real estate market should see a boost in the coming year, as most economists see a slight rise in store for 2012?s housing market. After years of falling prices and high foreclosure rates, though, any ground gained would serve the market well.

MacroMarkets’ survey of 100 economists and real estate professionals reported that respondents predicted home values to rise by 0.25% next year. The road ahead for our industry is long, but it is starting to recede, which is a great sign. The low mortgage interest rates and more affordable housing in the median income range should give the market some room to recover in 2012.