Half of U.S. homeowners struggle with mortgage due to COVID-19, consider selling home
by Chris Melore
NEW YORK — The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the United States economy. A new study finds the crisis could soon cause a big shakeup in the real estate market. As homeowners struggle to pay their bills, researchers say many Americans are thinking about putting up the “For Sale” sign.
A survey of 2,000 American homeowners found that 52 percent are constantly concerned about making their mortgage payment on time. Forty-seven percent of the poll say they’re considering selling their home because they can’t afford their mortgage anymore.
Researchers say 35 percent of U.S. homeowners admit they’ve missed a mortgage payment during the pandemic. The same amount of respondents said they worry about losing their home because of the financial situation COVID-19 has put them in.
The poll, commissioned by the National Association of Realtors, also found that eight in 10 homeowners say the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unexpected financial problem in their lives.
Cutting back to make the mortgage
More than half of the survey admit they’ve cut back on their basic expenses to afford paying off their home. Seventy-one percent of homeowners have significantly cut back on buying clothes. Other habits the tough financial times have cut into include buying take-out food (66%), paying for a streaming service (46%), and buying groceries (45%).
The pandemic is also causing many in the survey to find new ways to make money. Nearly two-thirds of the poll say they’ve started a side project. Another 53 percent of homeowners are selling their own possessions to make extra income.
Too good to be true?
Although the National Association of Realtors says there are some relief options available for struggling homeowners, many don’t believe they’ll qualify and some even think the programs might be a scam.
“Unfortunately, at times like these scam activity increases, so homeowners must remain vigilant and watch out for offers that sound too good to be true,” says National Association of Realtors President Vince Malta in a statement.
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“Realtors and lenders can identify programs and aid designed to help meet loan obligations,” Malta adds. “Acting quickly may help homeowners stay in their homes and keep the money they have already invested into it.”
Nearly three out of four homeowners say they don’t fully understand how mortgage relief options would affect them. Instead of the government, Americans are turning to friends and family for help.
Thirty-one percent have asked a family member for a loan during the pandemic. Another 22 percent have reached out to friends for help with their bills. Some homeowners have opted for the real longshot, as 19 percent of homeowners admit playing the lottery has helped ease their financial burden.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.