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Published: May 15, 2024 4 min read

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Americans may have more investment options than ever these days, but real estate still reigns supreme.

In survey results released Wednesday by Gallup, 36% of people said they think real estate is the best long-term investment. This marks the 11th straight year that real estate has safely notched the No. 1 spot in Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance poll, beating out gold, savings accounts, cryptocurrency and more.

But while the popularity of real estate has stayed steady since 2014, other assets are experiencing ups and downs.

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Stocks and mutual funds, for instance, seem to be having a resurgence, with 22% of the roughly 1,000 folks polled identifying them as the best long-term investment. That's a notable jump from the 15% who said the same in 2023 — and one that tracks with how well stocks have performed recently. (Last year, the S&P 500 gained 24%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 13%, and the Nasdaq rose 43%.)

Gold, on the other hand, hasn't been so lucky. In the 2023 Gallup survey, 25% of people picked it as their top investment; in the 2024 poll, that share fell to 18%.

Savings accounts or certificates of deposit, the boring but safe investing options that topped the Gallup list in the years around the Great Recession, came in fourth place for 2024. They were followed by bonds and crypto in the fifth and sixth spots on the list of Americans' best long-term investments.

The best investments in 2024, according to Americans

Here's what the Gallup respondents said when asked what they think is the best long-term investment:

  1. Real estate (36%)
  2. Stocks or mutual funds (22%)
  3. Gold (18%)
  4. Savings accounts or CDs (13%)
  5. Bonds (4%)
  6. Cryptocurrency (3%)

Real estate investing picks up

A separate report published Wednesday by Redfin found that investor home purchases have recently increased for the first time since 2022: an indication that "investor activity in the housing market is stabilizing following several years of dramatic ups and downs," as Redfin data journalist Lily Katz wrote in a blog post.

Investors bought 44,000 U.S. homes in the first few months of 2024, which is 0.5% higher than the same time last year. They're making money, too: The average investor home sold in March fetched nearly $175,000 more than the investor purchased it for.

"Investor home purchases more than doubled during the pandemic homebuying boom in 2021, and then plunged nearly 50% at the start of last year as declining rents and home values ate into potential profits," Katz wrote. "But now, with home prices and rents back on the rise and the initial shock of elevated mortgage rates in the rearview mirror, investors are easing their foot off the brake pedal."

The resurgence may seem strange because it's a tough time to be in the housing market for so many Americans. As the Federal Reserve weighs its next moves, mortgage rates are hovering around 7%, causing would-be homebuyers to stay put rather than move and sacrifice their current low rates.

But as Redfin points out, this doesn't affect real estate investors quite as much. While they may still be impacted by the high interest rates on loans for renovations, they largely pay in cash for the homes themselves.

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