Are More Homeowners ‘House Poor’?

Two houses right next to each other, with one on the left in good condition and the other in disrepair on the right.

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Sixty-nine percent of about 1,000 homeowners recently surveyed say they felt “house poor,” a new study from research company ConsumerAffairs shows. Homeowners blame unexpected repair, maintenance, and upkeep costs as some of the reason why.

But despite the rise in costs, nine in 10 still believe homeownership is worth it and is a good long-term option that is better than other options, the survey finds.

Purchasing a home is often the biggest financial expense most people ever make. Are some homeowners taking on more than what they can handle? Forty-three percent of respondents say their home is harder to afford than they expected.

Housing is becoming more expensive. As home prices have risen by double digits over the past year, monthly mortgage payments have increased by 3.1% whereas the median family income has risen by just 0.7% in comparison, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Housing Affordability Index.

“It’s not surprising that 54% of homeowners reported that house-related expenses are their most considerable financial burdens, despite their homes being their most significant asset,” the study notes. “What might be surprising, though, is that 40% indicated that their housing expenses are more than they can afford.”

Homeowners may be underestimating many costs involved in homeownership.

house poor chart