Can’t say that I am surprised by this article showing that investors feel most comfortable with real estate as an investment.  It’s also interesting that cash is still ahead of stocks.  -Greg

For the first time in three years, real estate is the most popular investment option in a survey that accompanied Bankrate’s Financial Security Index.

When asked what kind of investments made the most sense, 27 percent said they’d invest in property.

Wall Street geneInvestors preferredrated little interest — only 17 percent said they’d buy stocks — even though stocks have been a relatively strong investment recently. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index jumped 7.7 percent year over year from mid-July.

“We’re not seeing the bunker mentality from individual investors to the same extent of the past few years,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “But the preference for real estate over, say, the stock market, does beg the question of whether or not Americans are again viewing residential housing as a golden ticket.”

Gold and other precious metals followed at 14 percent, and bonds, with yields that have hovered near historical lows in the past year, came in last at 5 percent.

Bankrate’s survey was based on a national telephone poll conducted between July 9 and 12. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

Housing on the rise

Americans are likely encouraged by recent indicators showing the housing market’s strength. In May, sales of new homes grew 2.2 percent to the highest level in seven years, and April’s figures increased 8.1 percent from March, according to the U.S. Census. Buoyed by demand for single-family homes, existing-home sales also rose 5.1 percent in May, recording a 9.2 percent year-over-year gain, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Home values are also rising. S&P/Case-Shiller’s latest measurement of national home prices shows a 4.2 percent year-over-year gain from March to April. Since February 2012, when the index bottomed, prices have increased 26.8 percent.

By Janna Herron •