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Image of U.S. real estate industry continues to improve

Staff Writer |
The image of the U.S. real estate industry improved for the fifth year in a row in 2016, with 44% of Americans now viewing it positively and 21% viewing it negatively.

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The public's 23-percentage-point net positive rating gives real estate, for the first time since 2006, a higher rating than the overall average for the 25 industries Gallup measures annually.

The industry's climb back into public favor began in 2009 following a spectacular five-year fall after the housing bubble burst in the middle of the last decade. During that five-year span, the public's net positive rating of real estate tumbled from +35 in 2003 to -40 in 2008.

The 75-point ratings loss was the largest any industry has suffered since Gallup began asking the question in 2001.

Three other industries sustained smaller, but still sizable, losses in their ratings from their high points in the early to mid-2000s. All three have since regained at least some of the ground they lost.

The auto industry fell 68 points, from a +33 net positive rating in 2003 to -35 in 2009, then rose to +27 this year.

The banking industry dropped 67 points, from +39 in 2006 to -28 in 2009, and now stands at +2.

Soaring gas prices in 2004, 2005 and 2006 sent the oil and gas industry's rating tumbling 54 points, from -8 in 2003 down to -62 in 2006, the lowest net positive rating Gallup has recorded. The industry now stands at -7.

Even with its highest rating of +35 in 2003, the real estate industry's image has never approached the net positive ratings of such American favorites as the restaurant and computer industries.

On the other hand, the public's -40 net positive real estate rating - coming during the 2008 mortgage crisis that resulted in millions of defaulted home loans -- pushed real estate near the bottom of the 25 rated industries. Only the federal government (-42) and the oil and gas industry (-61) were viewed more negatively at the time.

This year, real estate's +23 net positive puts it near the middle of the ratings, closest to the retail (+26) and automobile (+27) industries.

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