Overview: List of Most Preferred Real Estate and Cash Investments Among Americans for the Next 10 Years

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Real estate is the long-term preferred investment choice for Americans, according to new research from Bankrate. Property has been the top choice for five of the past seven years, and most recently won Bankrate’s Review 2019

The survey shows that 28 percent of Americans prefer real estate as a way of investing money that is not needed for 10 years or more. That’s up from 26 percent last yearwhen the stock won the top honors.

Americans also had a true love of cash in this year’s survey, with cash (including savings accounts and CDs) the strongest since 2014, as cited by 25 percent of respondents. Surprisingly, the surge in popularity is associated with interest rates are at an all-time low and with little potential for return.

Meanwhile, only 16 percent of Americans opted for stocks, down sharply from 28 percent last year.

“The strong preference for cash is a paradox given record low interest rates and renewed concerns about inflation, and can be especially damaging if inflation exceeds the return on cash investment,” said Greg McBride, CFA, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. “While the pandemic has highlighted the need to have sufficient short-term savings, the cash investment does not pay off over a long period of time.”

From May 25 to May 30, Bankrate surveyed 1,008 American adults about their investment preferences. Below are the main results of the survey.

Key takeaways:

Real estate is the most popular long-term investment

Real estate topped the poll of Americans’ preferred investment over the next decade with 28 percent of the vote. The results heralded a return to the top spot for real estate, last ranked in a 2019 Bankrate survey.

In second place were cash or similar investments such as CDs or savings accounts, which received 25 percent of the vote. The stock market closes the top three with 16 percent.

Stocks have lost popularity with respondents since last year, when they ranked first with 28 percent of Americans, despite a year of rising stock prices and low downward volatility. This year’s figure was the worst figure for stocks in the survey since 2016. The stock market lost its third place in real estate and cash in 2013-2017, despite a raging bull market in stocks.

“Sentiment in the stock market has fluctuated back and forth over the past five years, but creating wealth in the long run means maintaining commitment and consistent investment during the inevitable ups and downs,” McBride says.

Gold and other precious metals were chosen by 13 percent of Americans, down slightly from last year’s 14 percent and in the same range since 2013.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have become more popular with 9 percent of respondents chosen, compared to 4 percent in 2019 and 2020 and just 2 percent in 2018.

Bonds were chosen by only 4 percent of Americans, which is in line with last year’s results and is at the lowest level in nine years of Bankrate research.

About 4 percent of Americans indicated other investments, and another 2 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.

Americans are still uncomfortable buying cryptocurrency

While a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin has shown a notable increase in the survey over the past few years, most Americans still feel uncomfortable investing in it. About 61% say they are “not too comfortable” (28%) or “not at all comfortable” (33%) to invest in it.

About 35 percent of Americans say they feel comfortable investing in cryptocurrency. About 9 percent are “very comfortable” with it, and another 26 percent are “somewhat comfortable”. About 4% admit that they have never heard of bitcoins or cryptocurrencies.

Comfort declines with age: 51 percent of young people aged 25 to 31 are “somewhat” or “very comfortable” investing in cryptocurrency, compared with 16 percent aged 67 and older.

Inflation Doesn’t Affect How Americans Invest

Bankrate asked Americans, “How will fears about inflation affect the way you invest money that you won’t need for more than 10 years?” The results show that inflation does not appear to have much effect on how Americans invest their money in the long run:

  • About 58 percent say inflation will not affect how they invest.
  • About 20% say they will invest more aggressively.
  • Another 20% say it’s surprising that they will invest less aggressively.
  • About 2 percent of the respondents did not know or refused to answer.

Young people are most likely (29%) to say they will invest more aggressively due to higher inflation. Generation X and baby boomers accounted for 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively, while only 6 percent of the silent generation said they would.

Investment preferences vary significantly by age

So which age groups are choosing which investments over the next decade? Bankrate’s results shed light on who liked each type of investment the most and who liked the least.

  • The property was the most preferred long-term investment among young millennials (33 percent), while the baby boomers (27 percent) preferred it the least.
  • Cash Most preferred by older millennials (ages 32-40) – 31 percent, compared with 25 percent of Gen X and 21 percent of young millennials and baby boomers.
  • IN stock market it is preferred by young millennials and those under 30, with 20 percent using it. Generation X stocks, meanwhile, were the least preferred at 11 percent.
  • Preference for cryptocurrency Younger Skew: 14 percent of young millennials and those under 30 think this is the best way to invest. Only 9 percent of older millennials and Gen X cites cryptocurrency, and only 5 percent of baby boomers.

Investment preferences vary significantly depending on income and education.

The investment preferences of Americans over the age of 10 vary greatly depending on family income and educational level.

  • The property ranged in popularity from 22 percent among the lowest-income households and those with secondary or less education to 36 percent among the highest-income households and college graduates.
  • Cash investments were mentioned more than twice as often (30 percent) among households with incomes below US $ 75,000 than among households with incomes of US $ 75,000 or more (14 percent).
  • IN stock market the preference was given to the highest income households ($ 75,000 or more) at 22 percent, about double that of the lowest income households ($ 30,000 or less) at 11 percent.
  • Preference cryptocurrency, about 8-9 percent, was constant across all households, regardless of education level.

Methodology

This research was conducted on Bankrate through a telephone interview conducted by SSRS. Interviews were conducted from 25 to 30 May 2021 among a sample of 1,008 adults. Data are weighted and intended to be representative of the entire US adult population, and are therefore subject to statistical errors usually associated with sample-based information.

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