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Half of Americans struggling to afford housing, survey finds

Presidential candidates address housing costs
What can the White House do about high housing costs? 05:26

Many Americans are struggling to keep a roof over their head amid the high cost of housing in the U.S.

About half of homeowners and renters said they have periodically struggled this year to afford their mortgage payment or rent, according to a recent survey from online real estate broker Redfin. To keep up with their housing payments, some homeowners and renters report selling their belongings, picking up overtime shifts, canceling vacations, working a second job and even skipping meals. 

The cost of housing in today's market means "some families can no longer afford other essentials, including food and medical care, and have been forced to make major sacrifices," Chen Zhao, economics research lead at Redfin, said in a statement. 

Redfin based its findings on a survey of roughly 3,000 homeowners and renters in February.

A 2023 survey from Clever Real Estate found that 62% of homeowners sometimes struggled to make their mortgage payment on time. 

The national median mortgage payment hit $2,184 in February, up from $2,061 a year ago and $1,750 in February of 2022, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Median rents rose to $1,981 in February, up from $1,937 a year ago and $1,684 in the same period in 2022, data from shows.

Home prices, mortgage rates remain high as inflation cools 01:34

Despite the high cost of housing, most homeowners have found a way to stay on top of their payments. The share of borrowers who are behind on their mortgages — defined as a homeowner being 90 days or more past due — stands at 3.88% of all loans outstanding, according to the most recent MBA data. Between 1979 and 2023, the delinquency rate averaged 5.25%.

The percentage of homeowners behind on their mortgage is still low when factoring all loans, the MBA said in February, but newly signed loans are falling into delinquency faster. The newer loans are likely going into delinquency due to "the resumption of student loan payments, robust personal spending, and rising balances on credit cards and other forms of consumer debt, paired with declining savings rates," the MBA said. 

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