The nation’s homeowners paid a median of $1,000 in monthly housing costs in 2009, while renters paid a median of $808 per month, according to the 2009 American Housing Survey released Thursday by the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And while the number of Americans who own homes are falling, the number getting into reverse mortgages is gaining considerably. Compared to 2007, the number of homeowners that owned their home free and clear decreased 1.3% to 24.2m in 2009 from 24.9m. The amount of regular and home-equity mortgages increased 1.4% to 50.3m from 48.7 in 2007. Reverse mortgages increased 59% to 252,000 from 159,000 while line of credit options decreased to 1.7m from 1.8m. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages propelled 2.2% to 6.3m. Veteran Affairs (VA) mortgages decreased 0.3% to 3.7m in 2009. Rural Housing Service/Rural Development (RHS/RD) mortgages held steady only increasing to 435,000 in 2009 from 426,000 in 2007. The majority of homeowners in 2009, 35.8m or 46.9%, had a primary mortgage term between 28 and 32 years. The survey also measures homeowner/renter satisfaction with neighborhood and satisfaction with the home. The 2009 survey indicates that respondents were generally content with where and how they were living:

  • 70% rated their homes an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10, with 28% giving their home a 10
  • 84% of residents in newly constructed homes rated their homes between an 8 and 10, with 45% giving their home a perfect score
  • 68% rated their neighborhood highly, with 25% giving it the “best” rating

And in a further drilling down of household expenditures as it relates to purchases, in terms of renters versus owners, it turns out that having a mortgage represents a larger ability to feed oneself. The report said 9.3m renters, or 26.4%, in 2009 lived below the poverty level compared with only 6.4m homeowners, or 8.4%, that lived below the poverty level. Three years ago, homeowners paid a median of $927 in monthly housing costs, an average of 20% of their household income. The median household income for homeowners was $59,886 and 8.8% were living below the poverty line. Renters in 2007 spent a median of $755 in monthly housing costs, an average of 30% of their household income. The median household income was $28,921 and 20.2% were living below the poverty level. The American Housing Survey is released every two years and covers a wide range of topics with regard to housing conditions, including presence of air conditioning, safety equipment provided, type of heating used, presence of air conditioning and homeowner mortgage characteristics. Write to Christine Ricciardi.

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