Only one in six Washington-area adults who plan to buy a home in the next five years are willing to pay 13 percent mortgage interest rates, according to a survey of area adults.
Sharp consumer resistance to high mortgage rates comes as no surprise, but the survey, the 1983 Scarborough Report, underscores the importance of lower rates for home buyers, officials in the housing industry said.
The maximum interest rate on government backed single-family mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the Veterans Administration was recently lowered from 13 1/2 to 13 percent.
The maximum FHA rate earlier this year was 11 1/2 percent, a level much more acceptable to home buyers, the survey found. In all, 63 percent of prospective home buyers said they would be willing to pay interest rates of 11 percent or more. A total of 39 percent said they would pay at least 12 percent.
"Based on our information on a nationwide basis, those numbers would hold pretty true," said Bill Adkinson, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors.
"That's not a bad barometer" agreed Duane McGough, director of housing and demographic analysis at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Conventional mortgage rates today are between 13.75 percent and 14 percent. The National Association of Realtors estimates 900,000 fewer homes will be sold nationwide over the next year if mortgage rates are 14 1/2 percent instead of 12 1/2 percent.
However, some people, when faced with a concrete decision, may decide to accept a higher mortgage rate, according to some in the industry. The survey participants "didn't have a house in front of them that they wanted . . . and that makes a difference," said Mark J. Riedy, executive vice president of the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Recent trends in interest rates and seasonal changes can also affect consumer preferences for mortgage rates, Riedy said.
But Riedy and other housing officials said 11 percent mortgage rates would be much more acceptable to prospective home buyers than 13 percent rates, as the survey shows. Nationwide, 17.5 million families qualify for 13 percent mortgages but 21.8 million qualify at 11 percent, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
"Intentions are probably not always translated into action," cautioned Michael Sumichrast, NAHB's chief economist. "But they are probably a good indicator of what people would like to do."
In the survey, 20 percent of area adults said they plan to move and buy homes in the next five years, although many are planning to move out of the area.
Future Washington-area home sales cannot be predicted using the survey, which does not include people who will move to the area from other parts of the country.
A profile of prospective home buyers from the 1983 Scarborough Study reveals:
* 83 percent are planning to buy a single-family home. More than eight in 10 want at least three bedrooms and about as many want two bathrooms. "They may have to settle for something else, but that is what they prefer," said McGough of HUD. "The basic demand this year was for the large home."
* Slightly more than one in three are planning to spend $100,000 or more, while an equal number are planning to spend less than $75,000.
* A 54 percent majority have household incomes of $35,000 or more, compared to 41 percent of area households.
* 48 percent are currently renting their residences, compared to 54 percent for all Washington-area adults.
The Scarborough survey also found 10 percent of Washington-area adults lived in households which owned a home other than their current residence, while 5 percent said their household held undeveloped land. That translates into a total of 237,000 area adults living in households with second homes and 122,500 in households owning undeveloped land.
* A 57 percent majority of area residents with second homes said the property was owned for investment purposes, while most others listed vacation or retirement uses. Reasons for owning undeveloped land were similiar.
The median value for second homes and undeveloped land was $58,300, according to the survey. Owners of second homes or undeveloped land are more likely to live in affluent households with professional or managerial people.
As expected, the survey found younger people living in the Washington area to be much more mobile than older residents. Among people 18-35 years old, 78 percent have lived in their present home five years or less, compared to 60 percent of those 35-44 years old, 36 percent of those 45-54 years old, and 21 percent of those 55 or older.
Nearly half of the people aged 18-34 have moved at least two times in the last five years, compared to only one in 10 people aged 45 or older.
Six in 10 people from 18 to 35 years old said they plan to move in the next five years, compared to less than two in 10 people aged 45 or older. Overall, 41 percent of area adults said they plan to move in the next five years.
The 1983 Scarborough Report is a syndicated market survey conducted by the Scarborough Research Corp. of New York. A total of 3,299 Washington-area adults were interviewed for the survey from November 1982 to March 1983. Theoretically, the margin of sampling errror for survey figures based on that many interviews could be as high as 2.2 percent in either direction, 95 percent of the time.