More Than Wedding Bells And Babies, Baltimoreans See Homeownership As Sign Of Success

Americans as a whole and Baltimoreans in particular equate homeownership with being a “successful adult,” above getting married or having children, and are willing to do what it takes to make their homeownership goals a reality, according to a new Wells Fargo survey.

The Wells Fargo “How America Views Homeownership” survey was conducted by The Harris Poll from April 17 to April 29, 2019.

Key findings of the poll, conducted among 1,004 U.S. adults 21 and older and an additional 251 adults in the Baltimore metropolitan area, included:

•Seventy-five percent say they equate homeownership with being a “successful adult,” more so than having children (35 percent) or getting married (30 percent), and that homeownership provides a sense of responsibility (79 percent) and security (74 percent).

•More than four in five adults (83 percent) say they believe the benefits of homeownership outweigh any drawbacks.

•While most current homeowners (73 percent) had to make hard sacrifices in order to afford their home, nearly all say buying their home was worth all the sacrifice to save for it (93 percent).

•Nearly all homeowners (96 percent) agree owning a house provides more “bang for your buck” than renting in the long run.

•In addition, seven in 10 Baltimoreans (71 percent) say they would give up something to save for a down payment, including dining out (44 percent), going to events (44 percent) and vacations (36 percent), and 37 percent of Baltimore adults who are saving to buy or renovate a home say they have done work outside their primary job to help pay for it.

“Homeownership is part of the fabric of American life, defining communities and providing a base for families to live out their dreams,” Michael DeVito, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending, said in a news release. “As today’s consumers set out to achieve their homeownership goals, they are making smart financial decisions that position them— and the communities they call home— for long-term financial success.”

Baltimoreans cite financial concerns as the top barriers to buying, with nearly one in three (30 percent) identifying paying down consumer debt as the top barrier to buying, along with saving for a down payment (26 percent).

Baltimoreans also seem to have misperceptions about what it takes to increase their opportunity of getting a home loan, citing “perfect” credit (71 percent), being debt-free (74 percent), “having a lot of money in the bank” (62 percent) and having no student debt (45 percent). In fact, more than one in three homeowners (34 percent) say they never thought they would be able to purchase their own home, the survey revealed.

“Financial education represents a tremendous opportunity when it comes to helping more Americans achieve homeownership, and there are a lot of resources available to address the misperceptions that persist about homebuying,” said DeVito. “It is important to save and tend to your credit score, but you don’t need perfect credit, and there are low down payment loan programs designed to give first-time buyers a clearer path to owning a home.”

Baltimoreans also say they would be willing to make trade-offs in order to afford a home.

More than half of adults (52 percent) say they would be willing to buy a smaller house with fewer updates and amenities in order to afford a home.

Most say they would be willing to make logistical trade-offs for the chance to purchase a home, such as moving to a smaller city nearby (70 percent), accepting their second choice of a city or town (61 percent), or moving to a rural area (63 percent).

“The majority of Americans, including Baltimoreans, see homeownership as an investment in their future and as a key piece in achieving goals like financial health and security,” said DeVito. “It is a meaningful step that brings benefits not just to individual families, but also to the neighborhoods and communities they call home.”