Majority of homeowners hit with unexpected home repair costs in the past year
New survey shows three-quarters of homeowners have no set plan in place to pay for home maintenance projects
Washington, DC, June 13, 2022 — Most homeowners proactively seek out ways to avoid repair issues around the house, according to a new Ipsos survey conducted for Hippo Insurance. Despite this aspiration to stay on top of home repairs, three in five homeowners say they have had to pay for an unexpected home repair or upgrade in the past year, with the average out of pocket cost being nearly $4,000. Unexpected repairs aren’t the only issues creeping up for homeowners; around two in five say inflation and price increase have kept them from doing planned home maintenance or improvement projects, and nearly a third of homeowners report they have experienced damage to their home that was caused by severe weather or climate-related issues.
1. While homeowners admit, in theory, to staying on top of home maintenance and being equipped to handle repairs, a majority still have had to pay for unexpected maintenance or upgrades this year. A slim majority also indicate concerns about staying on top of home maintenance.
- A majority of homeowners and renters alike say they proactively seek out ways to repair issues around their home, rather than waiting until things break to fix them. Homeowners are more proactive about repairs than renters (68% vs. 56%, respectively).
- For the roughly one-third of homeowners that wait until something breaks in their home, a plurality say they wait either because of a lack of knowledge around home maintenance (28%) or they don’t have time to regularly check that things are working (27%).
- Though homeowners report feeling proactive, 60% say they have had to pay for unexpected repairs or upgrades to their home in the past year, with the average cost of these unexpected repairs totaling nearly $4,000.
- The vast majority of homeowners, 74%, say they pay for home repairs as they arise or have no set plan in place to pay for maintenance projects. Just 20% set aside money regularly or create a yearly budget for their home maintenance.
- A bare majority, 52%, say they are concerned about staying on top of regular home maintenance, and half (49%) are at least somewhat concerned about a small issue in their house creating lasting damage.
2. For some homeowners, external pressures – namely inflation, supply chain issues, and severe weather – could be getting in the way of their home care or protection.
- Forty-two percent of Americans who own or rent their home say inflation and price increases have kept them from doing planned home maintenance or improvement over the past few months.
- Similarly, 37% say the same is true around supply chain issues. Unlike inflation, which has impacted homeowners and renters roughly equally, more homeowners say supply chain issues and shortages have hindered their maintenance than renters (39% vs. 33%).
- Those with older homes (constructed before 2000) are more apt to say inflation has kept them from doing planned home maintenance (43%) than those with younger homes, constructed after 2010 (34%).
- Homeowners in the South are more likely to agree that inflation and price increases have prevented them from doing home improvement than those in other regions (48%, compared to 39-41%).
- Nearly one-third of homeowners (31%) and a quarter of renters (24%) say they have experienced damage to their home that was caused by severe weather or climate-related issues. Again, Southern homeowners are most likely to agree (36%), along with Midwestern homeowners (32%), when compared to those in other regions (28% in Northeast, 24% in the West).
3. The majority of homeowners and renters do not use smart home technology devices for home protection or maintenance.
- Just 37% of homeowners and 24% of renters say they currently use smart home technology devices in their home. Among current users, the most common reason for use is general convenience (56%) and security or home monitoring (51%). Fewer use these devices for other home protection or disaster prevention needs, such as deterring theft (32%), saving money on utilities (25%), or energy efficiency (22%).
- Gen Z or millennial homeowners are more likely to use smart home devices (56%) than other generations of homeowners (33%). They are also more commonly used among those living in newer constructed homes: 55% of those living on homes constructed after 2010 use smart devices, compared to 31% of those who live in homes constructed more than 20 years ago.
- Among the majority who say they do not currently use smart home devices, there is one primary motivating factor: cost savings. Fifty-four percent say they would be likely to purchase and install smart home devices that could help with saving money on utilities. For all other reasons, fewer than half say they would be likely to purchase smart home devices that could help with other issues, such as deterring theft (49%), protection against unexpected maintenance (37%), or protection against weather-related issues (31%).
4. For homeowners, owning your own home remains critical to obtaining the American dream.
- Seventy percent of owners agree that “home ownership is an important part of the American dream,” compared to just 29% who believe it is not a criteria for stability or success.
- Even more, 74%, say “home ownership is a key to happiness”, versus 25% who say it is “a big source of stress and debt”.
- This is one area where owners and renters clearly differ. Renters are evenly split on both of these attributes. However, among renters who say they are likely to purchase a home in the next year, their views are more aspirational and closer to homeowners themselves.
- For example, 66% of renters who are likely to purchase a home soon agree “home ownership is a key to happiness”, with 34% saying it is a source of stress and debt. Among those who are not likely to purchase a home in the next year, just 41% say owning a home is a key to happiness, and 58% feel it is a stressor.
About the Study
This Ipsos poll was conducted April 29 to May 1, 2022, on behalf of Hippo Insurance, using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This starting sample for this poll is a nationally representative probability sample of 2,104 adults age 18 or older. To qualify for the survey, respondents must own or rent the home they live in (n=1,915).
The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.
The study was conducted in English. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, and household income. The demographic benchmarks came from 2021 Current Population Survey (CPS) from the US Census Bureau. The weighting categories were as follows:
- Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
- Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
- Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
- Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
- Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the qualifying sample of homeowners and renters. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.13. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. Sampling error is only one potential source of error. There may be other unmeasured non-sampling error in this or any poll. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.
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