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Americans Are Now Less Supportive of a Foreclosure Moratorium


The attorney generals of all 50 states have jointly launched an investigation into the lending practices of several big banks and mortgage companies that led to hundreds of thousands of ongoing home foreclosures. While Bank of America has already placed a freeze on foreclosures during the investigation, a sizable number of Americans favor stopping all foreclosures for the next six months.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 45% of Likely Voters favor a plan that forces banks to stop all mortgage foreclosures for the next six months. However, 38% oppose a six-month moratorium on foreclosures. Another 18% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here).

These marks a lessening of support for a moratorium from February 2009, when 56% favored one and just 30% were opposed.

Many of the states' top legal officers say it's possible that some bank practices led to thousands of unjustified foreclosures. Still, a majority of Americans (58%) think that if some lenders are penalized for their foreclosure practices, it will be harder for most buyers to obtain mortgages. Only 14% think it will make the borrowing process easier for most, while 16% say things will remain about the same.

Fifty-two percent (52%) say Wall Street investors and mortgage companies are to blame for most of the problems in the lending industry, while 35% blame individuals who borrowed more than they could afford. Those numbers have changed drastically from July 2008, when slightly more voters blamed borrowers than Wall Street investors and mortgage companies.

Only 38% of Americans say new laws are needed to regulate the mortgage industry, while 47% think more emphasis should be put on enforcement of current mortgage lending laws.

While just over half of Democrats support a foreclosure freeze, Republicans and adults not affiliated with either major political party are divided on the issue.

Fifty percent (50%) of investors oppose a moratorium, but 53% of non-investors support one.

But then most non-investors (56%) blame Wall Street and the mortgage companies for the problems with subprime mortgages and foreclosures, while investors are closely divided on the question.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of investors say there should be more enforcement of the existing laws that govern the lending industry. Non-investors lean slightly toward the idea of new laws.

Most Republicans (60%) and a plurality (45%) of unaffiliated adults say existing laws are enough. A plurality (45%) of Democrats wants new laws.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of adults nationwide have been following news about the foreclosure investigations at least somewhat closely, while 31% have not.

Over half of Americans know someone who has lost their home because they could not pay their mortgage, but just 20% believe that when banks foreclose on a home, it's generally due to unfair lending practices. Fifty-nine percent (59%) say the foreclosures are due instead to people buying a home they couldn't afford. 

Now more than ever, homeowners expect to see the value of their home go down over the next year.

Today, just 52% of adults say buying a home is the best investment families can make.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 13-14, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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