Homeowners Are Feeling ‘House Rich, Cash Poor’

October 23, 2019

One in five U.S. homeowners say they feel house rich but cash poor, according to the newly released Hometap Homeownership Study. The rising costs of homeownership nationwide prompted nearly 20% of 675 homeowners surveyed to classify themselves as feeling “house rich, cash poor” most of the time, according to the study produced by Hometap, a firm that provides loan alternatives for tapping home equity. Seventy-three percent of respondents say they feel “house rich, cash poor” at least some of the time.

“We knew there were pockets of homeowners who felt house rich, cash poor—we see that every day in our work—but were surprised to find that one in five feel that way so often,” says Jeffrey Glass, CEO of Hometap. “Mortgage rates are at historic lows, which is encouraging more people to buy, but despite 45 million homeowners with excess equity, we’re seeing really conservative behavior—perhaps a lasting effect of the 2008 financial crisis. Unless wages start to rise relative to home values, we’ll see more homeowners falling into the house rich, cash poor category.”

Eighty-two percent of homeowners cited the main stressor in homeownership as uncertainty over their future income; the next stressor was the anticipated costs of home maintenance and repairs, at 81%.

Millennials may be particularly feeling cash-strapped. Sixty percent of millennial homeowners surveyed say they agree or strongly agree that housing costs make it difficult to achieve their financial goals. Nineteen percent say that 50 to 100 percent of their monthly income goes toward their mortgage payment. Thirty-six percent said they’re also paying off student loans.

Overall, homeowners say they expect the house rich, cash poor issue to worsen. Sixty-six percent say housing costs are rising faster than income, and 77% expect that gap to get worse. Further, 57% of respondents said they can’t find solutions to alleviate being house rich and cash poor. Seventy-three percent said they do not want to take on traditional financing options, such as home equity loans.

“This study from Hometap makes clear that homeowners think there’s a problematic gap between housing costs and income,” says Jeremy Sicklick, CEO of HouseCanary. “But what homeowners need to keep in mind is that on average home values tend to increase steadily across the U.S. It seems likely that homeowners will start to see their properties as usable financial assets that allow them to be more authoritative in managing their financial situations.”

Source: 
Is Homeowner Debt Getting Worse?” Hometap (October 2019)