Many Americans Lack Basic Knowledge About Home Ownership: Survey

Many Americans Lack Basic Knowledge About Home Ownership: Survey
A sold sign is posted in front of a house in Washington, on Feb. 26, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Mary Prenon

Many Americans lack knowledge of basic concepts about home ownership, including misconceptions about mortgage terms and knowledge about home buying, maintenance, and renovation, as well as home building, a new study has revealed.

The study was conducted in May by Lombardo Homes, a Midwest home builder specializing in new construction in Michigan and Missouri, which surveyed close to 1,000 people nationwide aged 18–77.

Jenn Tracy, spokeswoman for Lombardo Homes, told The Epoch Times that they wanted to find out about knowledge gaps in both prospective and longtime homeowners.

“I was really surprised that America failed this quiz with questions on basic information that someone who’s buying a home should know,” she said.

“The purpose of conducting this quiz was to get an overview of how America stacks up when it comes to home buying, maintenance, and renovation, as well as home building.”

Describing the home purchase process as a “daunting task” for any generation, Tracy indicated there was a general underestimation on home costs, as well as renovations maintenance.

“What we did find is that most people really want to be able to purchase a home they can afford,” she added. “Even if they’re first-time homebuyers or have been through the process many times, it’s important that they have knowledgeable people around them to help them understand all of the expenses and potential expenses for the future.”

Home Buying

Americans received their best marks in the home buying section, answering 7 out of 10 questions correctly. Most surveyed knew about pre-approval letters, home equity, the current interest rate for a 30-year mortgage, and that the home seller traditionally pays the real estate agent’s commission.

However, the majority underestimated the national median home sales price as well as the new home build price for 2023. Lombardo Homes reported those figures at $436,800 at the end of the first quarter of 2023 and $446,000, respectively.

Generation Z, the youngest demographic, was the only generation to score less than 50 percent in the home buying section and scored less than all of the other demographics in the sections on home renovating and building. The study found that this group was unaware that flood protection is not usually included in a standard homeowner’s insurance policy and that private mortgage insurance is usually required when a home buyer is making less than a 20 percent down payment.

A real estate sign is posted in front of a newly constructed single family home in Auburn, N.H., on June 24, 2021. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)
A real estate sign is posted in front of a newly constructed single family home in Auburn, N.H., on June 24, 2021. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)

The section on home maintenance and renovation received the lowest scores with only three out of seven questions answered correctly.

While most were able to identify an HOA as a Homeowners Association, a large number of respondents were stumped about the average lifespan of a standard asphalt shingle roof—20 years—as well as the life expectancy for a traditional tank-type water heater—8 to 12 years. Most also failed to name the material typically installed directly over the exterior wall framing of a house—sheathing.

Home Repairs

A related new report from All Star Home found that one in four homeowners cannot afford a $1,000 emergency repair and that 39 percent are putting off home repairs this year owing to the cost. The North Carolina-based firm specializing in roofing, siding, and gutters, also indicated that that one in three homeowners have already dealt with unexpected house repairs this year alone.

The most common home problems reported in 2023 have been plumbing, appliances, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) issues. As a result, the company’s survey found that one in six homebuyers regretted their purchase because of repairs, while one in three chose to ignore a potential home repair issue.

Emily Thornton, a spokeswoman for All Star Home, told The Epoch Times that the current economy and inflation are often leaving new homeowners financially strapped.

“People may not think they need spare funds in case of an emergency, but they really have to look at their budgets and plan ahead,” she said. “It’s no joke when homeowners are faced with big problems like a leaky roof or water in the basement.”

Part of the problem, admitted Thornton, is that many new homeowners are coming from rental apartments or condos, where they don’t have to worry about maintenance. Typically, repairs are covered by landlords or condo associations.

“They’ve never had to take care of these things before and some potential problems are not obvious when they’re buying the home,” she added.

Thornton suggested homeowners set aside savings and make a list of which repairs can wait and which can’t.

“Things like painting and other cosmetics they can often do themselves,” she said. “But when it comes to HVAC, roofing, or electrical problems, they need to consult a professional.”

The All Star Home survey also discovered that 70 percent of Americans have used social media, such as YouTube, to resolve home issues. While it found that using social media hacks helped save an average of $1,190, some DIY projects aren’t for everyone. Over 22 percent of those surveyed admitted they made a repair worse by trying to fix it themselves.

All Star Home estimates roof installation can run between $5,500 and $13,000, while vinyl siding can range between $6,000 and $10,000. Gutter installation can typically cost anywhere from $1,500 to $7,000. All prices will vary based on location, size of the home, and quality of the materials.

A 2022 report from the National Association of Realtors indicated more than 40 percent of home maintenance repairs are owing to normal wear and tear. Roof repairs and appliance fixes are the most common home maintenance projects.

“Weather conditions and natural disasters can greatly influence home maintenance needs and costs,” the association’s report found.

Texas topped the nation’s list for the most expensive location for home maintenance, followed by Florida, California, Illinois, and Georgia.