Rising home values aren’t dampening economic anxiety for homeowners: survey

The survey also found that younger generations — who do not yet qualify for a reverse mortgage — are more aware of the loan as an option to pay off a forward mortgage balance

Nearly 80% of homeowners remain just as anxious as they were about the economy last year, despite the fact that 86% of homeowners report that the value of their homes increased between 2022 and 2023.

This is according to the second annual “Home Equity Punch List” survey, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of industry-leading reverse mortgage lender Finance of America Reverse (FAR).

“Homeowners’ concerns about the economy remain high and they are more apprehensive about their ability to pay for certain costs when compared to last year, yet many aren’t looking to their housing wealth to help pay for expenses,” FAR said in a statement. “The survey also found a lack of knowledge about financial products like reverse mortgages that could offer potential solutions, and major differences when comparing age and gender.”

Beyond persistent homeowner anxiety about the economy, the survey also found that the rate of homeowners concerned about unexpected health costs in retirement increased from 48% in 2022 to 61% in 2023. Concerns about increased costs for discretionary spending also saw a jump, from 32% in 2022 to 41% in 2023.

Less severe increases from last year include the categories of homeowners anxious about their ability to pay off debt (from 36% in 2022 to 40% in 2023), and the likelihood of a homeowner to use a home equity loan (from 28% to 32%).

There is also a gender gap in terms of awareness related to home equity products and their ability to supplement cash in retirement. Sixty-five percent of men were aware of such options compared to only 42% of women.

Interestingly, younger generations that do not yet qualify for reverse mortgage loans appear to be more aware of the products as an option to pay off an existing mortgage balance. Thirty-eight percent of both women and baby boomers know that a reverse mortgage can be used to pay off a mortgage, compared to 46% of men and 49% of Gen Z/Millennials, according to the results.

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