NEW YORK (MainStreet) — A new survey sheds light on how single consumers view the great appeal in homeownership.

According to Century 21, 45% of single homeowners said it was "very important" to own a home, while 75% say it was "fairly important."

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Singles eye homeownership for several factors, including a negative attitude toward renting and the promise of investing for the future.

"We are in the midst of a shift in the home-buying population," said Rick Davidson, president and chief executive officer of Century 21 Real Estate LLC. "This survey shows that homeownership is a major life decision for singles, and that it is just as important a part of the American Dream for singles as it is for married couples."

Still, some 64% of respondents said they faced a hurdle during the home buying process.

One hurdle includes the lack of inventory in the housing market. On Monday, the National Association of Realtors said total housing inventory increased 3.5% in July to 2.37 million, the equivalent of 5.5-month supply, down from 5.6 in June.

Less selection means buyers either need to settle for a home that may not fit their preferences, while paying a higher price. Low inventory levels tend to push up prices, especially in the regions with high job growth.

Credit for developers has also been tougher since the recession, just as it is for consumers. Though home builders are gaining confidence, as seen in the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for August, which rose two points to 55. Levels over 50 mean home builders have a more positive outlook on conditions.

"As the employment picture brightens, builders are seeing a noticeable increase in the number of serious buyers entering the market," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. "However, builders still face a number of challenges, including tight credit conditions for borrowers and shortages of finished lots and labor."

With these challenges in mind, singles are taking measures to get closer to attaining homeownership. Some 60% said they would eat out fewer times, 51% would reduce spending on vacations and 54% said they would spend less on entertainment.

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While singles yearn for homeownership, they find multiple parts of the buying process daunting. Some 38% cited offers and negotiations as the most unnerving, while 36% said getting a mortgage and 30% said moving.

- Written by Scott Gamm for MainStreet. Gamm is author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE.