US housing doldrums 'to last until 2013'

A foreclosure sign outside a property in Las Vegas
Image caption The survey suggests US citizens are increasingly willing to walk away from their mortgages

Some 58% of Americans expect the US housing market to stay depressed for two or more years, a survey has found.

In the survey, 48% of respondents said they would consider walking away from their mortgage if they were in negative equity - up from 41% since May.

The findings by property websites Trulia and RealtyTrac come as house prices have begun falling again.

They suggest the market may face a new wave of mortgage defaults as Americans lose respect for scandal-hit banks.

The attorneys general of all 50 US states are carrying out a joint investigation into foreclosures - the repossession of US homes by mortgage lenders - after it emerged that unqualified "robo-signers" had been used to produce fraudulent documentation to present to US courts.

"As a result of the recent robo-signing debacle, half of US adults expressed that they now have less faith in mortgage lenders, banks and the government," the two companies said in a statement presenting their report.

The two real estate websites themselves were even more pessimistic than their survey respondents, predicting that the housing market would recover only in 2014.

Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac - which provides an online forum for purchasing repossessed properties - said he expects a surge in foreclosures into the New Year as many existing adjustable-rate mortgages are about to reset to a higher interest rate.

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