Many displeased with dearth of affordable housing, poll finds

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Many displeased with dearth of affordable housing, poll finds
Slightly more than half of people worldwide are satisfied with affordable housing availability.

Real estate agents understand that the cost of homeownership is a relative term. To some buyers, a $300,000 house may be well within their ability to pay. But for others, this price point is cost-prohibitive.

But talk to your average person in the world at large, and they're likely to tell you there aren't as many affordable properties as there ought to be, based on the results of a new survey.

Slightly more than half of people around the world - 51 percent - believe there's a sufficient amount of good, affordable housing in their communities, according to a recent poll from Gallup. Six years ago, satisfaction with the supply of low-cost housing was at 56 percent.

In what will come as good news to real estate agents, people in the U.S. are the most likely to be content with the current affordable housing situation. Approximately 7 in 10 respondents to the poll said that they were satisfied with how many properties were available that they'd be financially capable of purchasing. In a distant second were respondents from East Asia, as 58 percent were content with the level of low-cost housing. Meanwhile, just 35 percent of people from the Middle East and North Africa were satisfied with the situation where they live.

Rebecca Rifkin, chief analyst at Gallup, indicated that affordable housing is not a problem that's confined to any one corner of the world. Every country in one way or another deals with this issue.

"A lack of affordable housing continues to plague many nations, highlighting the need for new construction and for home prices to match local wages," said Rifkin.

Though Americans may be more sanguine on the number of properties that can be purchased on a budget, home values in the U.S. have gradually ascended over the past several years, pricing some individuals out of the market. First-time homebuying is at a record low. According to recent statistics from the National Association of Realtors, the share of first-time buyers fell to 33 percent this year, a low last reached in 1987, when less than 1 in 3 buyers were in the real estate market for the first time. The long-term average since 1981 is 4 out of 10.

First-time buyers may return by lowering mortgage fees
Richard Smith, CEO of relocation services provider Realogy, told CNBC that in order for first-time buyers to return to the market in high numbers, mortgage fees need to come down. Smith described the current fees climate as "extraordinarily high," particularly on loans provided by the Federal Housing Administration.

Since 2010, mortgage fees have increased five times, according to The Washington Post. They now represent approximately 1.3 percent of a loan's value, up from 0.5 percent four years ago. NAR,  the Mortgage Bankers Association and advocacy think tank the Center for American Progress have all called for a lowering of these fees.

In a statement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the FHA, housing officials said that the government "has made no decisions regarding the premiums" but they're being evaluated regularly to ensure they're in line with market fundamentals.

Another way to bring first-timers back to the homebuying market, according to Smith, is to reform underwriting methodologies implemented by mortgage servicers.

"Banks have a very difficult time adjusting to the new environment, which holds them accountable even for technical defaults, so the putback risk is very high," Smith told CNBC.

He added that lenders are aware of this and as a result are somewhat reticent to make loans available to first-time buyers.

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