In a survey Fannie Mae conducted in December and January, two-thirds of the 3,000 respondents — a group including renters, homeowners with a mortgage and those who owned their home outright — said they still wanted to own a home and nearly 90% said they thought it was wrong to walk away from an underwater mortgage.

"Everyone is talking about what consumers think, but nobody has really gathered a broad-based sampling of what they think," said Douglas Duncan, Fannie's chief economist. The housing agency's survey aimed to gauge "what a representative sample of the American population is thinking about" when it comes to "owning versus renting."

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