Survey: Monthly housing costs are down, but some still find difficult to afford

by 17 Oct 2014

Average monthly costs have decreased for more than 115.7 million occupied housing units since 2011, according to findings from the 2013 American Housing Survey released yesterday. However, the survey also reported that some have experienced mortgage payment increases, which have “made the payment difficult to afford."

Released by the U.S. Census Bureau and  the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) every two years, the survey showed that in 2013, median monthly housing costs of all occupied units dropped to $896, from $927 in 2011, and while owner-occupants’ monthly costs fell from $1,008 in 2011 to $934 in 2013, the costs paid by renters increased slightly from $845 to $850.

However, the data also showed that nearly 11% of all owner-occupied units experienced a monthly payment change of primary mortgage during the last 12 months. This change ranges from a decrease of $50 or less to an increase of $100 or more. 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 which indicated a monthly payment change, increases “made payment difficult to afford,” reported the AHS.

Americans have continued to struggle with housing affordability. Earlier this year, Hart Research Associates reported that 52% of Americans were having to make sacrifices to cover their rent or mortgage during the last three years.

The AHS survey also found that one in three homes is a rental, homes have fewer physical problems, lots are shrinking, and cockroaches love the south.

Approximately, 65% of all housing units were occupied by owners in 2011, while the remainder were occupied by renters, and as of 2013, the median size of all single-family detached housing units was 1,800 square feet with an average lot size of .25 acres, compared to .36 acres in 1973.

Between 2011 and 2013, there was a slight decline in the number of homes experiencing moderate or several physical problems, including, plumbing, heating and electrical. Last year, there were nearly 2 million homes with severe physical problems and nearly 4 million housing units with moderate physical problems.

The survey also found that cockroaches are way more common in the South than in other parts of the country. While 10.3% of Americans reported seeing signs of cockroaches within the prior 12 months, 17.6% of Southerners had actually saw the bugs. Additionally, 9.1% of households reported evidence of mice in the last 12 months.