Housing Sales Are Booming, But Many Americans Can't Pay Their Mortgage

Housing Sales Are Booming, But Many Americans Can't Pay Their Mortgage

While millions of Americans are buying up homes at a record pace, a huge segment of the population is having problems just paying their mortgage. 

 

While millions of Americans are buying up homes at a record pace, a huge segment of the population is having problems just paying their mortgage. 

The majority of homeowners enrolled in forbearance plans during the coronavirus pandemic say that they wouldn’t be financially stable without being able to postpone their mortgage payments and are stressed for when payments have to resume, according to a new poll.

 

The survey, conducted by Credit Karma, found that 59 percent of homeowners in a forbearance program felt that their financial comfort depended on being able to delay their mortgage payments, and more than six in 10 respondents said that they felt stressed about the monthly mortgage payments they will have to make in the future. The results of the poll were first reported by USA TODAY

Roughly 2.2 million homeowners had enrolled in a forbearance program as of April 25, 2021, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And in May 2020, more than four million mortgages across the country were in forbearance. 

“Forbearance is a double-edged sword. It’s great because it allowed people to stay in their homes. It allowed them to save the money for necessities like groceries, medical attention or even to pay down debts,” Andy Taylor, general manager for Credit Karma Home, told the publication. “But it does come at a cost. Namely, at the end of your forbearance period, you will have to pay that back.”

Forbearance allows homeowners to postpone mortgage payments without getting late fees and other related consequences for not paying on time.

Last year, Congress passed the Cares Act, which offered the first round of major assistance to homeowners who couldn’t make mortgage payments because of a decreased income or loss of employment. The package included a year of mortgage assistance initiatives, which President Joe Biden extended through his $1.9 trillion rescue bill.

The Biden administration has set aside $10 billion for homeowners to help with housing-related payments like mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance and homeowners association dues, which was incorporated into the same law that sent eligible Americans $1,400 stimulus payments and unemployed workers $300 weekly benefits.

The Credit Karma survey also recorded how homeowners are spending the available cash that would be paying for their mortgage payments. Thirty-four percent of respondents said the money is being used for essentials like groceries, medical needs, utilities and additional expenses grown during the pandemic. Another 32 percent decided to save the money, while 21 percent said they used the cash to pay off debts like student loans or credit cards. The remaining said they didn’t have any extra money to spend.

The White House reported that one in five renters are behind on rent, while more than 10 million homeowners are struggling to make mortgage payments.

The poll was conducted in April 2021 by Qualtrics, a financial technology company, on behalf of Credit Karma and surveyed 1,033 adults nationally.

Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.