House Rich, Cash Poor

One in five U.S. homeowners say they feel house rich but cash poor, according to the newly released Hometap Homeownership Study. The rising costs of homeownership nationwide prompted nearly 20% of 675 homeowners surveyed to classify themselves as feeling “house rich, cash poor” most of the time, according to the study produced by Hometap, a firm that provides loan alternatives for tapping home equity. Seventy-three percent of respondents say they feel “house rich, cash poor” at least some of the time.

“We knew there were pockets of homeowners who felt house rich, cash poor—we see that every day in our work—but were surprised to find that one in five feel that way so often,” says Jeffrey Glass, CEO of Hometap. “Mortgage rates are at historic lows, which is encouraging more people to buy, but despite 45 million homeowners with excess equity, we’re seeing really conservative behavior—perhaps a lasting effect of the 2008 financial crisis. Unless wages start to rise relative to home values, we’ll see more homeowners falling into the house rich, cash poor category.”

Eighty-two percent of homeowners cited the main stressor in homeownership as uncertainty over their future income; the next stressor was the anticipated costs of home maintenance and repairs, at 81%.