New Data: Most Americans Feel They’ll Only Own a Home If they Win the Lotto, Inherit Money, or Marry Rich

Many Americans Struggle with Home Affordability and Feel They’re at Least 3-4 Years From Homeownership, 20% Say It’ll Never Happen, and 56% Believe They Can’t Get a Mortgage

Home affordability is so out of reach right now that two out of five Americans think they’d need to win the lottery to become homeowners.

Action that would be required to own a homePercent of respondents
Improve my credit score50%
Win the lottery40%
Get a raise or promotion at my current job34%
Pay down my existing debt33%
Inherit money from someone26%
Move somewhere else25%
Marry someone rich19%
None of the above9%

That’s according to a recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Divvy Homes of 2,000 current non-homeowners. Of respondents, only 53% are confident in any way that they’ll be able to own their own home someday.

In addition to the 40% who think hitting a lottery jackpot is their best chance at home ownership, one in four (26%) believe they’d need to inherit money from someone in order to ever own a home. One in five (19%) even said they’d have to marry someone rich.

Overall, the average American thinks it would take them between three and four years to afford a home - and a third believe it would take them five years or more. Another 20% expect that they’ll never be able to afford one.

How long it would take to afford a house in my current neighborhoodPercent of respondents
I can already afford my own house3%
Less than 1 year5%
1 to 2 years18%
3 to 4 years21%
5 to 6 years15%
7 to 8 years6%
9 to 10 years5%
More than 10 years8%
I will never be able to afford my own home20%

The survey also revealed that almost six in 10 (57%) non-homeowners would find it difficult to afford a house in their current neighborhood. Despite that, 67% are still hopeful about the possibility of one day owning a home – more than five times as many as the number of people who actively described themselves as hopeless (12%). Another 19% describe themselves as frustrated, and another 11% feel desperate.

The changes in market dynamics and rise in interest rates are weighing heavily on would-be buyers. While over half (52%) believe the current housing market is unstable, 46% believe that things will level out within the next two to five years. 17% feel the market will never return to stable, affordable levels.

Respondents think they’d need to make an average of $76,000 a year to afford a starter home, and that they’d need at least $45,000 in savings to afford the down payment on a starter home. Nearly half of respondents (44%) are willing to get a second job or side gig in order to get closer to their goal of homeownership.

Ideal down payment size when buying a new housePercent of respondents
[1] 0 to 2%21%
[3.5] 3 to 4%20%
[7] 5 to 9%18%
[12.5] 10 to 15%19%
[18] 16 to 20%5%
[22.5] 20%+7%
I’m not interested in buying a home10%

The ideal down payment size would be, on average, 8% of the overall purchase price, which would make their ideal home worth just under $570,000.

Those that dream of being able to buy a home in the next few years prioritize affordable monthly payments (69%), the home being the right size for now and the future (39%), and the location being ideal for their family’s needs (37%).

Priority when making a home purchasePercent of respondents
Affordable monthly payments69%
The home is the right size for both now and the future39%
The location is perfect for my/my family’s needs37%
The home has outdoor space31%
The home is in a great neighborhood with a vibrant community30%
The home is walkable to local stores, restaurants, schools28%
The home looks beautiful and is my style19%
Other (please specify)2%

However, 56% think they’d be denied if they tried to apply for a mortgage right now.

“Potential buyers are looking for alternatives to traditional mortgage financing or are stuck waiting for a reprieve from the rising rates and prices that keeps so many of them renting and locked out of homeownership,” said Adena Hefets, Co-founder and CEO of Divvy Homes.

“There are so many factors putting downward pressure on a potential homeowner’s buying power — high interest rates, a lack of supply, increasing cost of living — that the starter home seems to be on the verge of extinction.”

Out of those respondents who currently rent, 47% worry about home prices getting more and more expensive before they can afford to buy. “Throwing money away on rent” was also considered one of the biggest drawbacks to not owning a home among 46% of respondents, in addition to feeling uneasy about the stability of their long-term living situation (41%) and watching interest rates rise before they can afford to buy (34%)

Things that are concerning you about not owning a homePercent of respondents
Watching homes prices get more and more expensive before I can afford to buy3%
“Throwing money away” by paying rent5%
Feeling uneasy about the stability of where I will be living for the long-term18%
Watching interest rates go up before I can afford to buy21%
Not being able to customize my home the way I want it15%
Missing out on wealth that homeownership creates6%
Not feeling like I am part of the community because I am a renter5%
Other (please specify)8%
None of the above20%

Affordability is an overall problem: 63% of respondents said they often struggle to make ends meet, most commonly because of the high cost of living (69%) and rising inflation (56%).

“The traditional mortgage process was designed in the 1940s when the norm was a single breadwinner with a steady W-2 income. The system hasn’t changed, even though the way we work, live and form families is dramatically different. But today’s younger buyers often lack long periods of income history and are increasingly non-salaried, working as a 1099 contractor, gig worker, or self-employed individual,” Hefets added. “A majority of aspiring homebuyers feel that homeownership is always just beyond their reach, that the ‘American Dream’ of homeownership is slipping away, and that it would take luck, extraordinary circumstances, or a serious change in the mortgage process to make it possible for them to own a home in today’s economic climate.”

Survey methodology:This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 non-homeowners was commissioned by Divvy Homes between June 5 and June 7, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).