By Simon Fleming-Wood
Homeownership in America is changing. Aspiring owners are plagued with a new set of challenges standing in their way along with a plethora of shortcomings, stemming from economic issues to social inequalities. Many will argue that the American dream of owning a home is fading away. Yet, as out of reach as it may seem to some, owning a home remains one of the most effective ways of building wealth in this country and stands as a symbol of financial stability and security in an otherwise uncertain environment. It’s why so many people today still set their sights on owning a home no matter how far into their life plan it seems to be.
A recent survey released in March from Bankrate found that 74% of respondents ranked homeownership as their highest gauge of prosperity, above having a career (60%), children (40%), and a college education (35%).
While the sense of prosperity in owning a home remains, the path to purchasing one is no longer as traditional as it was for the generations before. We no longer equate owning a home to a certain phase of life, such as marriage or starting a family. Purchases of homes by single buyers skyrocketed in the past several years. The willingness to live in lesser recognized, up-and-coming neighborhoods has also grown in popularity rather than needing to settle in a specific neighborhood. According to research from Hippo’s homeowner preparedness report conducted by Ipsos, only 13% of respondents who currently rent have ranked neighborhood or community as a reason they’d want to own a home, while aspects such as building financial equity and needing more space topped the list.
To keep the dream of homeownership in America alive, it’s time to focus on the modern responsibilities that owning a home brings. Current homeowners are experiencing a different set of challenges than their parents did. Rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain backlogs are combining to make homeownership, for many, feel like a daunting and overwhelming expense. In fact, 78% of homeowners report having regrets about their home purchase in the past 12 months, according to a recent Hippo survey.
However, Hippo’s research also revealed that more than two-thirds (68%) of homeowners who experienced a problem recognize that it could’ve been prevented with routine maintenance and/or inspections. Homeowners who are unsure how to address these issues can complete regular checkups for their home. In the same way that you take your car to the mechanic or complete your annual physical at the doctor, regular checkups to determine the health of your home can help reduce the stress of unexpected repairs by catching issues earlier. Prospective buyers should request a home inspection report from the home’s seller to understand the current condition of the home and clarify the maintenance and repair needs.
In addition, since owning a home is such an important part of not only people’s sense of prosperity, but their foundational security, it can come with significant unease about what can go wrong when costs begin to add up. Consider the aging inventory of homes available in the United States. More than one-third of the nearly 140 million houses in the U.S. were built before 1970 and are now more than 50 years old, according to Census estimates. This means that there’s an even more pressing need for regular home maintenance and upkeep to prevent problems.
Being proactive through regular home maintenance builds confidence in homeowners to protect the American dream of owning a home. This home maintenance checklist can be completed on a monthly, seasonal, and annual basis for homeowners to take back control over the complexities of homeownership and avoid unexpected issues. These projects range from Do-it-Yourself tasks, such as spring deep cleaning to larger projects like protecting your home from summer and winter weather hazards. Research indicates that most homeowners want to put in the work to protect their home; 94% say they’d be willing to do small maintenance tasks now to save on bigger costs down the line, according to Hippo’s homeowner preparedness report.
It is still possible to love and cherish the joy that owning a home brings. More than two-thirds (70%) of today’s homeowners said that homeownership remains a critical part of achieving the American dream in Hippo’s report. For those aspiring owners who are up to the task, focus on the things you can control. This willingness to be proactive will help us all navigate an ever-evolving future and continue to pass down the sense of shared prosperity that owning makes us feel from generation to generation.
About the author: Simon Fleming-Wood
Simon Fleming-Wood is chief marketing officer at Hippo, the home insurance group offering a different kind of home insurance, built from the ground up to provide a new standard of care and protection for homeowners. Hippo’s goal is to make homes safer and better protected so customers spend less time worrying about the burdens of homeownership and more time enjoying their homes and the life within.