Tags: financially | struggling | 6 months | pandemic

US Still Financially Struggling 6 Months Into Pandemic

US Still Financially Struggling 6 Months Into Pandemic
Theaphotography | Dreamstime.com

Francesca Ortegren, PhD By Wednesday, 07 October 2020 03:01 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

It's been six months since the coronavirus pandemic began in earnest, and to say that Americans are struggling financially is a massive understatement.

As renters and homeowners fall behind on their monthly payments and progressively more Americans have to dip into their savings to survive, the financial impact of this crisis has spread far and wide.

A recent survey from Clever shows just how much Americans are hurting. Although the housing market currently remains a seller's market, these financial setbacks will inevitably impact buyer demand. Read on below to learn more about the impacts of the virus and some housing market predictions.

Americans Have Precious Little Savings to Fall Back On

One huge impact that the data shows is that the majority of Americans surveyed are precariously close to living paycheck-to-paycheck. A whopping 61% of respondents said that their savings will run out by the end of this year, if they haven't run out already. Included in that majority is 20% who report never having had savings at all.

Needless to say, being without savings can have substantial short-term impacts. Without a rainy-day fund to turn to, many Americans could find themselves in dire financial straits if they were to encounter an unexpected bill or other large expense.

With so many Americans dipping into savings just to get by, fewer are going to be able to achieve long-term financial goals such as saving up for a down payment. If this trend continues, we could ultimately see a slowdown of qualified buyers, despite current record-low interest rates.

People Are Starting to Take on More Debt

By and large, people are starting to take on more debt, even though they had quite a bit before the pandemic even began. As of December 2019, the typical American household had $80,000 in non-mortgage debt, according to Experian’s Consumer Debt report.

Since then, one-quarter of those surveyed have reported taking on more debt. Additionally, more than half of those who reported an increase in their debts admitted to increasing it by at least $2,000.

Although widespread unemployment is to blame in many cases, taking on more debt may have a negative effect on those who are looking to become homeowners in the near future. Beyond just impacting their credit score, it can throw off their debt-to-income ratio, which can have an impact on how much they can borrow when it's time to buy a home.

Homeowners and Renters Alike Are Starting to Miss Housing Payments

Living paycheck-to-paycheck and with dwindling savings has started to have an impact on people's ability to keep up with their monthly housing payments. Nearly one in five homeowners are currently behind on their mortgage. Of that, 18% owe more than $5,000 toward housing payments.

For renters, the situation is even more worrying. A staggering one in three renters are behind on their rental payments, though, notably, only 25% of that one-third percentage currently has more than $2,000, compared to 46% of homeowners who have missed payments.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the number of people who are still unemployed, only a small percentage of homeowners and renters have been able to pay back the housing payments they've missed. Overall, the numbers are similar. Only 16% of homeowners and 15% of renters have paid back their deferred payments.

Overall, Renters Stand to Face Bigger Financial Consequences

Renters are at a bigger disadvantage than homeowners when it comes to repaying housing costs. Through the CARES Act, homeowners who put their mortgage in forbearance have until the end of their loan to repay any missed payments. Hopefully, this measure will leave them with enough time to get back on their feet.

Renters, on the other hand, face a different set of consequences. Although the CARES Act protects renters from being evicted now if they can't make payments, it doesn't stop their landlords from charging exorbitant late fees and evicting tenants once the moratorium is up. Landlords can also still charge fees and interest and aren't required to provide any assistance for these costs, such as repayment plans.

It's unknown how these measures will ultimately impact the housing market. It's unlikely that we will see homeowners rushing to sell their homes in order to avoid foreclosure, but we could see a wave of evictions when the moratorium is lifted in January.

The Bottom Line

As the pandemic continues, increasing numbers of people are struggling to keep up with the cost of daily living. If this level of financial strain persists, the housing market is bound to be impacted. However, only time will tell how widespread and severe impact will be.

Dr. Francesca Ortegren, Ph.D. is a Research Associate at Clever Real Estate where she focuses on helping people understand complex data, real estate, finances, business, and the economy by researching various topics, analyzing data, and reporting useful insights for general consumption.

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It's been six months since the coronavirus pandemic began in earnest, and to say that Americans are struggling financially is a massive understatement.
financially, struggling, 6 months, pandemic
Wednesday, 07 October 2020 03:01 PM
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