width=350More than a quarter of Americans currently renting houses and apartments have no intention to ever buy a home, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

The survey, by real estate search site Trulia.com, found 27 percent of renters do not plan to ever buy a home. Although 72 percent still expect to buy eventually, that proportion is down from 77 percent six months ago.

Of those who do hope to become homeowners, two-thirds say they will wait two years or more.

This reluctance to buy could drag out the real estate market's slump longer than many have predicted, Trulia said.

Renters converting into buyers are crucial to turning around the housing slump, but the current economic crisis is causing people to become very hesitant to get off the fence and buy a home, said Trulia Chief Executive Officer Pete Flint.

Among the factors affecting sentiment: Renters are unable to save for a down payment, or they are waiting to get a new job or for mortgage rates to go even lower.

U.S. home loan rates are the lowest since record-keeping began in 1971. The average 30-year rate fell to 4.44 percent in the week ended August 12, according to loan company Freddie Mac.

U.S. mortgage applications leaped last week as the rock-bottom rates lifted demand for home refinancing loans to its highest level in 15 months, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

Trulia's online survey of about 2,000 Americans was conducted by Harris Interactive in late July.

(Reporting by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)