Monthly Housing Costs Falling, But Some Still ‘Difficult to Afford’

Average monthly costs have decreased for more than 115.7 million occupied housing units since 2011, according to the latest American Housing Survey (AHS).

Conducted biennially by the U.S. Census Bureau and sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the survey shows that in 2013 median monthly housing costs of all occupied units dropped to $896, from $927 in 2011.

However, while owner-occupants’ costs fell (from a median of $1,008 in 2011 to $934 in 2013), the costs paid by renters increased slightly from $845 to $850. 

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In addition, the survey data also shows that nearly 11% of all owner-occupied units have experienced a monthly payment change of primary mortgage over the last 12 months. This change ranges from a decrease of $50 or less to an increase of $100 or more, with varied responses across the spectrum.

Of the total units that reported a mortgage payment change in the past year, nearly 31% saw an increase of $50 or less; 6% saw an increase of $51 to $99; and 17% saw an increase of $100 or more.

For nearly 8% of all households indicating a monthly payment change, these increases “made payment difficult to afford,” the AHS states. 

Previous reports have shown that Americans have been struggling with housing affordability over the last three years, with 52% having to make sacrifices to cover their rent or mortgage. 

Other households in the AHS indicated their mortgage payments had decreased, with the majority of units experiencing a decrease of $50 or less (16%) or a decrease of $100 or more (15%). 

The survey also spans reverse mortgage data, finding that the number of reverse mortgages held by owner-occupied units was 421,000 households — or approximately 0.5% of total owner-occupied units. Roughly 5% of households indicate they have a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on the property. 

To access the American Housing Survey data, click here

Written by Emily Study

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