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Survey: 47% of Americans don’t have home-buying FOMO + the pros and cons of owning a house

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Homeownership continues to be the cornerstone of the American dream, but the journey to achieving it isn’t getting any easier. The pandemic, shifts toward remote work and historically low mortgage rates have caused an influx of home buyers, resulting in stiff competition in housing markets across the country. When this competition is combined with declining home inventories, the real estate industry reports that surges in home sales are driven by home-buying FOMO, or the fear of missing out.

To see the extent of home-buying FOMO across the country, The Zebra surveyed 800 people about their home-buying intentions, what pressures affected their decision to buy in today’s hot housing market and whether they feared missing out on buying a home. Below are some notable findings.

Key findings:

  • 47% of Americans claim they don’t fear missing out on buying a home in today’s competitive market.
  • On the other hand, 17% of Americans do fear missing out on buying a home during the current housing market.
  • One in two Americans are satisfied with their home purchases.
  • A surprising 14% of Americans don’t plan on becoming homeowners.
  • The financial ability to buy is the biggest consideration Americans have when deciding to buy a home.

Although home-buying FOMO may be a visceral experience, it shouldn’t be the only reason you decide to buy a home. Below, we discuss the pros and cons of owning a house to see if it’s right for you. If you did make a home purchase in today’s competitive market, make sure you take steps to protect your home for the long run.

What is home-buying FOMO?

Home-buying FOMO refers to the fear of missing out on buying a home. The real estate industry identifies FOMO as a contributing factor when it comes to the increasing demand for homes the nation has experienced recently. Although home-buying FOMO is a real phenomenon, The Zebra wanted to know if it’s really all that common across the country.

 Do-Americans-have-homebuying-fomo

Home-buying FOMO isn’t sweeping the nation — 47% of Americans say they don’t fear missing out on buying a home

Although the media may tout home-buying FOMO as a driving force in the current housing market boom, the reality is that nearly half of Americans don’t fear missing out on buying a house in today’s market.

Of those, it was more common for women (51%) to report a lack of home-buying FOMO compared to men (44%). About 79% of those that didn’t feel FOMO also didn’t plan on buying a home anytime soon.

This isn’t to say that American home buyers don’t feel any home-buying FOMO at all. Our survey found that about 17% did fear missing out on buying a home in today’s housing market, but most did not plan to buy soon either. Nearly 16% of those surveyed, however, did buy a home during the current housing market.

Find a breakdown of our sample below.

  • 47% don't have home-buying FOMO
  • 20% selected not sure/other
  • 17% do experience home-buying FOMO
  • 16% bought a home during the current housing market

A majority of homeowners are satisfied with their houses

In our sample, about 51% reported that they are satisfied homeowners. Out of these satisfied homeowners, 80% aren’t planning to sell their home or buy again soon. This finding may help explain why the market is experiencing a lower home inventory than in previous years. With so many satisfied homeowners, there are fewer houses to fulfill the surging demand.

 Home-is-where-the-heart-is

To be or not to be a homeowner — 14% don’t plan on it

Our survey also found that about one in seven Americans don’t plan to become a homeowner at all. This surprising statistic may be reflective of the rising unaffordability of homeownership. With skyrocketing home prices and various home expenses to take on after the initial investment, many people may just be priced out of this part of the American dream.

 Homeownership-is-not-for-everyone

Factors Americans consider when buying a house

The Zebra also took a closer look into what factors affect Americans’ decisions to buy a house. Our key findings are laid out below.


The financial ability to buy a home is the top influence on home buyers’ decisions

In our survey, the financial ability to buy a home was the top factor when it comes to making a home-buying decision, with nearly 29% of respondents choosing it. Buying a house is one of the largest investments Americans may make in their lifetime, so it’s natural that this factor is influencing consumers.

Especially during a time where many homes are selling for over the asking price, having the financial ability to not only purchase a house but also one-up the competition is becoming necessary in competitive markets across the country.


Other factors that influence the home-buying decision

The next major factors that influence a person’s home-buying decision are whether they need more or less living space and if a person is moving into the next stage of their life. These two factors often go hand in hand.

For example, if someone is preparing to have a baby, they’ll often need additional living space to accommodate their growing family. Whether you’re in need of the extra room or simply a change, carefully consider the pros and cons of owning a home when making your decision.

 Top-factors-Americans-consider-when-buying-a-house

Advantages of owning a house

Owning a home is a large investment and a relatively long-term commitment. To understand if the path to homeownership is right for you, we’ve outlined the major pros to owning a house.

Start building equity

When you buy a home, you invest in a large asset that typically appreciates in value over time. As you put money toward mortgage payments and pay down your home, you slowly build equity, or the amount of your house that you own.

Similar to other assets like a retirement account or whole life insurance policy, you’re able to use your home’s value to help you finance a variety of expenses through a home equity loan, home equity line of credit or reverse mortgage. Through one of these lines of credit, your home’s equity can help you pay for home repairs, fund your child’s college education or consolidate large debts.

Predictable long-term expenses

If you purchased your home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll benefit from reliable monthly expenses that you can factor into a long-term budget. You won’t have to worry about rent increases or security deposits, and the money you pay every month will go toward an investment that benefits you and your family. After your home is paid off, you’ll get to enjoy reduced living expenses and also have a valuable asset to hand down to loved ones.

Better privacy and autonomy

Owning a home also comes with the perks of better privacy and autonomy in your space. You’ll no longer have to share a wall with noisy neighbors and you’ll be able to do whatever you like in the privacy of your own home.

Additionally, as the owner, you have the freedom to change or use the space as you see fit. No more worrying about putting nails in the wall or getting permission to paint a room. You’ll be able to customize your house to your liking, and the only person you need permission from to make home improvements is yourself.

Enjoy more living space

Moving into a house typically means that you get to enjoy more living space than an apartment or condo. Whether you’re adopting a new puppy or are looking to start a family, extra square footage will help accommodate any big life changes.

Another benefit of owning a home is that you have more space to do what you love. Any bonus space could be used to start a home office or as a place for hobbies. Homes usually have access to outdoor space too, so you can enjoy nature without ever leaving your property.

Added tax benefits

Homeowners also have the option of certain tax advantages. If you have a mortgage and itemize your tax deductions, you’re able to deduct interest payments of up to $750,000 for new loans. Other tax benefits include deductions for your mortgage insurance, mortgage points or even home office expenses.

Pros and cons of owning a home

Pros of owning a home

Cons of owning a home

  • Equity in a home
  • Large, upfront investment
  • Predictable, long-term expenses
  • Long-term commitment
  • Better privacy and autonomy 
  • High homeownership costs
  • More living space
  • More difficulty relocating 
  • Tax advantages
  • Risk of decreased home value

 

Disadvantages of owning a house

Despite all the perks of homeownership, it also comes with several disadvantages. Find the main cons of owning a house detailed below.

Large upfront investment

With the median home price breaking $400,000 for the first time ever in 2021, buying a house is a sizable investment that not everyone can afford. Although most home buyers finance their purchase, a down payment of 3%-20% would still cost you anywhere from $12,000 to $80,000 for a median-priced home.

Requires a commitment

When you purchase a home, you make a commitment to put down roots for the long term, all while paying off a 15- or 30-year mortgage. A good rule of thumb is to stay in your home for at least five years to start building equity in your investment. So if you do intend to buy a home, know that you may be making a five-year minimum commitment before you can get a return on your investment.

High cost of homeownership

The cost of owning a house doesn’t end after the sale closes. Expenses like home insurance, property taxes, HOA fees, utilities and even home repairs and maintenance all need to be included in your budget year after year. Make sure you account for all of these homeownership costs before you sign on the dotted line.

More difficulty relocating

The prospect of having a dedicated home base is appealing to many, but it also reduces your freedom to move. If an opportunity ever arises to take your dream job in a different city or if you need to move closer to aging parents, owning a home will make it more difficult to quickly change your plans. Think about your lifestyle and goals before deciding if homeownership is right for you.

Chance of decreased home value

Like any type of investment, the value of your home can increase, but it can also decrease in times of economic downturn. If the aftermath of the 2008 housing crisis is any indication, there’s never a guarantee that your property will be worth more than you paid for it. By 2011, housing prices had fallen 33% and hit market bottom, resulting in a $16 trillion loss of American households’ net worth.

In today’s housing market, the rising demand for homes is fueling fierce competition in cities across the nation. Despite this competition, a majority of Americans don’t fear missing out on buying a home.

If you’re unsure about whether homeownership is in your future, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of owning a house and use our flowchart below to see if it’s right for you. Should you decide to find your forever home, make sure to protect it with home insurance so you can enjoy it for the long haul.

 Should-you-be-a-homeowner-flowchart

Methodology
This survey was conducted for The Zebra on YouGov Direct. A sample of 800 U.S. adults ages 18 and older were surveyed on March 24, 2022, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific time. Survey data is weighted based on gender, age, education, political affiliation and ethnicity to be nationally representative of all adults 18 and older in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 3.5% for the overall sample.

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