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Real Estate's Lead as Best Investment Shrinks; Gold Rises

Real Estate's Lead as Best Investment Shrinks; Gold Rises

Story Highlights

  • More still say real estate is better long-term investment than gold, stocks
  • Real estate less dominant than a year ago, while faith in gold has surged
  • Belief that stocks/mutual funds are best is near decade low

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More Americans continue to name real estate than stocks, gold, savings accounts/CDs or bonds when asked which is the best long-term investment.

The 34% of Americans choosing real estate this year is down sharply from last year’s record-high 45% but is on par with the typical proportion selecting real estate from 2016 to 2020, before housing prices skyrocketed during the pandemic. Higher interest rates over the past year have cooled the housing market, dampening consumer exuberance about real estate as an investment.

Meanwhile, the perception that gold is best has nearly doubled, rising from 15% in 2022 to 26% today. As a result, gold has overtaken stocks for second position.


With U.S. stock indices failing to gain ground over the past year, fewer Americans now (18%) than in 2022 (24%) see stocks or mutual funds as the best investment. Today’s preference for stocks is on the low end of the 17% to 27% range of Americans choosing it since 2011.

The percentages of Americans naming savings accounts/CDs and bonds as best are up slightly from recent years, but still low relative to other investments.

Gallup has measured Americans’ perceptions of the best investment among these five options annually since 2011 as part of its Economy and Personal Finance poll, conducted each April. Before that, Gallup asked a version without gold as an option, but changed the question after gold emerged as a popular option with consumers during the 2007-2009 recession and accompanying subprime mortgage crisis.

The latest poll was conducted April 3-25.

Cryptocurrency a Bit Player in Investment Ratings

Each of the past two years, Gallup has asked a random half-sample of respondents another version of the question that includes cryptocurrency along with the five usual options. Last year, 8% of Americans chose cryptocurrency, putting it ahead of bonds. But today, following the collapse of crypto exchange company FTX last fall and bitcoin’s price continuing to be down by half from its 2021 high, just 4% of Americans say cryptocurrency is best.

With cryptocurrency on the list of options for best investment, Americans are slightly less likely to name stocks/mutual funds and savings accounts/CDs than when cryptocurrency isn’t in the mix. However, either way, real estate is the clear leader, followed by gold and stocks, and then savings accounts/CDs and bonds.


The belief that cryptocurrency is the best investment has dipped at least slightly among most subgroups of Americans but is down particularly sharply with young and middle-aged adults. The percentage of adults aged 18 to 49 choosing cryptocurrency has fallen eight percentage points, from 13% in 2022 to 5% today, compared with no statistical change among those aged 50 and older, now at 4%.

Stock Owners’ Faith in Stocks as Best Investment Is Subdued

The percentage of U.S. stock owners naming stocks as the best long-term investment when given the traditional five options has varied over the past decade between 24% (in 2012) and 37% (in 2019). Today’s 25% holding this view is at the low end of that range after declining three of the past four years. More stock owners currently select real estate (36%) than stocks as best, while an equal proportion (24%) choose gold.

Historically, few non-stock owners have named stocks as the best investment, although that changed amid the recovery in the stock market after the 2020 downturn. This year, non-stock owners have returned to their typically skeptical view of stocks, with only 10% believing they are best.


In contrast with the correlation between owning stock and one’s belief it is the best investment, Americans’ views of real estate as the best investment are not tied to homeownership. Renters (33%) are statistically just as likely as homeowners (36%) to say it’s the best.

Bottom Line

Americans’ perceptions of the value of different long-term investments vary from year to year according to short-term changes in these investments’ performance. When real estate or stock prices are high, their popularity as the best investment goes up, and the opposite is true when those prices are depressed. Gold tends to be the beneficiary when confidence levels in both real estate and stocks are down. This is typically during times of economic recession or uncertainty, as happened around the time of the Great Recession, and is happening again today.

Given the consistently low percentages choosing bonds and cash or CDs, these options appear to be safe havens for money rather than ways to grow wealth.

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