Nearly 40% of Homeowners Couldn’t Afford Their Home If They Were to Buy It Today

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Redfin reports many U.S. homeowners wouldn’t be able to afford to buy their home if they were to purchase it today because home prices have doubled over the last decade, and monthly housing costs are at an all-time high

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- (NASDAQ: RDFN) — Nearly two of every five (38%) homeowners don’t believe they could afford to buy their own home if they were purchasing it today, according to a new report from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage.

This is based on a Redfin-commissioned survey of roughly 3,000 U.S. residents conducted by Qualtrics in February 2024.

Nearly three in five (59%) homeowners who answered this question have lived in their home for at least 10 years, and another 21% have lived in their home for at least five years. That means the majority of respondents have seen housing prices in their neighborhood skyrocket since they purchased their home: The median U.S. home-sale price has doubled in the last 10 years, and has shot up nearly 50% in the last five years alone.

Home prices have soared over the last decade for several reasons. Already-high home prices skyrocketed during the pandemic, when remote work and ultra-low mortgage rates motivated many Americans to move and buy homes. Even before the pandemic buying boom, home prices were increasing due to a prolonged supply shortage, along with a strong labor market and growing population pushing up demand.

Rising mortgage rates are another reason many homeowners couldn’t afford their own home if they were to buy it today. The typical person purchasing today’s median-priced home for about $420,000 has a record-high $2,864 monthly housing payment with a 7.1% mortgage rate, the current 30-year fixed-rate average. If they were to purchase a home for the same price with a 4% mortgage rate, which was common in 2019, their monthly payment would be $2,210, roughly $650 less.

“Rising home prices are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Americans who already own homes benefit from rising values and they can consider themselves lucky they broke into the housing market while they could still afford it,” said Redfin Senior Economist Elijah de la Campa. “On the other hand, price appreciation makes the prospect of buying a new home daunting or even impossible for many people who want to move. Prices have risen enough that a similar home and location would be much pricier than a home someone already owns–even accounting for inflation. Add elevated mortgage rates to the equation, and moving up to a bigger, better home is even more costly and perhaps out of reach.”

The situation is especially dire for first-time buyers, who haven’t built up equity from the sale of a previous home. Nearly 40% of U.S. renters don’t believe they’ll ever own a home, up from 27% last year. Of the Gen Zers and millennials who do expect to buy their first home soon, more than one-third (36%) expect to use a cash gift from family to help with their down payment.

Baby boomers least likely to be able to afford to buy their own home today

Broken down by generation, baby boomers are least likely to be able to afford their current home if they were to buy it today. Nearly half (45%) of baby boomers said they couldn’t afford a similar home in their neighborhood now, compared to 39% of Gen Xers and 24% of Gen Zers and millennials. That stands to reason, as baby boomers are more likely to have bought their home a long time ago for a much lower price. That dynamic contributes to the shortage of homes for sale: Empty-nest baby boomers own twice as many large homes nationwide as millennials with kids, largely because older Americans, with no financial incentive to sell, are hanging onto their homes.

Unsurprisingly, lower-income homeowners are least likely to be able to afford their own home today. More than half (51%) of respondents earning under $50,000 annually wouldn’t be able to afford their home, compared to 34% of people earning $50,000-$100,000 and 21% of people earning more than $100,000.

To view the full report, including a chart and more details on methodology, please visit: https://www.redfin.com/news/survey-homeowners-afford-own-home

About Redfin

Redfin (www.redfin.com) is a technology-powered real estate company. We help people find a place to live with brokerage, rentals, lending, title insurance, and renovations services. We run the country's #1 real estate brokerage site. Our customers can save thousands in fees while working with a top agent. Our home-buying customers see homes first with on-demand tours, and our lending and title services help them close quickly. Customers selling a home can have our renovations crew fix it up to sell for top dollar. Our rentals business empowers millions nationwide to find apartments and houses for rent. Since launching in 2006, we've saved customers more than $1.6 billion in commissions. We serve more than 100 markets across the U.S. and Canada and employ over 4,000 people.

Redfin’s subsidiaries and affiliated brands include: Bay Equity Home Loans®, Rent.™, Apartment Guide®, Title Forward® and WalkScore®.

For more information or to contact a local Redfin real estate agent, visit www.redfin.com. To learn about housing market trends and download data, visit the Redfin Data Center. To be added to Redfin's press release distribution list, email press@redfin.com. To view Redfin's press center, click here.

Redfin Journalist Services: Ally Braun, 206-588-6863 press@redfin.com

Source: Redfin

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