By Hayden Alfano. Despite the economic difficulties this country experienced following the terrorist attacks of September 11, the housing market in the United States remained in good shape last year.

A study released in June by Harvard University reported that construction activity on single-family homes hit an all-time high of $206 billion in 2001. And there's good news for remodelers, too: $99 billion was spent on additions and alterations to existing homes.

"The majority of our report doesn't deal with future projections," says Rachel Drew, a researcher at Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, which conducted the study. "Past performance [of the housing market] has been good, but it's anybody's guess as to what could happen in the future."

However, certain findings seem to indicate that the upward trends will continue. The study projects that there will be 1.1 million new homeowners each year for the next two decades. Additionally, a study released by the mortgage finance company Fannie Mae reports that 78% of the population considers buying a home a "safe and smart investment," a considerably larger group than those who consider stocks or a retirement plan to be so. This represents a drastic change from 2001.

Chart Source: Fannie Mae

Percentage of Americans who consider buying a home, having a retirement plan, and owning stocks to be a safe and smart investment.