National Survey Confirms Low Housing Supply and Lack of Affordable Housing Among Biggest Homebuying Challenges for Minorities and Americans Overall
2021 National Homeownership Market Survey Also Finds Most Americans Don’t Understand Availability of Low Down Payment Mortgage Options
WASHINGTON — U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) today released its 2021 National Homeownership Market Survey that finds nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) ranked lack of affordable housing and nearly 6 in 10 (57 percent) ranked low housing supply among the biggest homebuying challenges in the United States. The survey also revealed that many people continue to not understand the down payment requirements to purchase a home. Housing insecurity (66 percent) was also among the top concerns from respondents. Socioeconomic disparities – such as lower income, lack of intergenerational wealth, limited savings, and the percentage of monthly income dedicated to housing costs – were reported to make these challenges more acute. The survey also specifically looked at these responses by race to better understand minorities’ perceptions and challenges to homeownership.
“This survey underscores the need to address the nation’s undersupply of housing, and specifically affordable housing, because too many people are being left out of the market or face significant barriers to get into the housing market,” said Lindsey Johnson, President of USMI. “Our survey shows that low- to moderate-income households and underserved communities struggle to become homeowners due to several major factors including low housing supply, lack of affordable housing, and personal economic factors such as imperfect credit score or the inability to afford a 20 percent down payment.”
USMI’s survey found that when broken down by race these economic factors are even more pronounced. Seventy-four percent of African American and 65 percent of Hispanic respondents reported that in addition to the lack of affordable homes or low supply, the inability to save for a down payment (39 percent of all minorities) and imperfect credit history (37 percent of all minorities) are the biggest challenges they face when it comes to buying a home.
Housing insecurity during the pandemic was also a significant concern among survey respondents, particularly for minorities. The number one concern among African American and Hispanic respondents was falling behind on rent or mortgage payments. In fact, twice the number of African American respondents (20 percent) and more than one and half times the number of Hispanic respondents (16 percent) reported this concern compared to white respondents (10 percent).
“The survey also shows that more education is needed around the mortgage finance process, particularly to ensure more buyers understand that low down payment mortgage options are widely available,” said Johnson.
USMI’s survey found that up to 45 percent of all respondents mistakenly believe that you need a down payment of 20 percent or more to qualify for a home purchase. Another 30 percent indicated that they do not know about down payment requirements. In truth, you can qualify with a down payment as low as 3 percent. The survey also asked respondents about the role of mortgage insurance. According to survey respondents, the top reasons for MI are it “levels the playing field” and “increases lower-income families’ access to homeownership.” A majority of respondents also said it was important to have access to low down payment loans through both the conventional and government-backed markets, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
USMI members support sensible regulatory and legislative reforms to remove barriers to homeownership, and they promote an equitable and sustainable housing finance system backed by private capital. In collaboration with more than 100 organizations and individuals involved in the Black Homeownership Collaborative, USMI also supports policies that promote equity and work to increase homeownership rates among Black Americans.
ClearPath Strategies fielded USMI’s 2021 National Homeownership Market Survey of 1,000 adults in the U.S. It was commissioned online April 13-21. Quotas were set to ensure a cross sample of age, gender, race, region, and education as well as homeowners, first-time homebuyers, and prospective homebuyers. The purpose was to understand the perceptions around homeownership, the mortgage process, and the challenges people face when trying to purchase a home.
The complete findings from USMI’s national survey are available here.