• 65.1% of Americans own their own homes
  • Home prices are increasing faster than salaries making it difficult to afford to buy anything
  • Median home prices more than doubled between 1999 adn 2019

More than a third of Americans say they don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford to buy a home largely because their salaries are too low, data collected by WalletJoy indicated Wednesday.

The “2020 Hope for Homeownership Report” indicates 59% of Americans overall and 55% of millennials – those 18 to 34 years of age -- say homeownership still is an important part of the American dream, but 48% said they didn’t think they’d ever be able to afford it because of low salary levels and high real estate prices.

Other obstacles to a home purchase cited were the ability to qualify for a mortgage (39%), low credit scores (33%), credit card debt (14%) and student loan debt (8%). Nineteen percent said owning a home is not worth the cost. Tight inventories also play a role.

The National Association of Realtors reported the median price for single-family homes rose in the last quarter in 94% of major U.S. metro areas to a median price of $274,000, up 6.6% from a year earlier. Experian notes the median value of homes more than doubled overall between 1999 and 2019, from $111,100 to $231,000.

Homes are priciest in the West and Northeast. The most expensive were in Hawaii, with a median value of $619,000, and the most affordable in West Virginia, with a median value of $99,000, Experian said based on data from Zillow.

“It is challenging – especially for those potential buyers – where we have a good economy, low interest rates and a soaring stock market, yet are finding very few homes available for sale,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “We saw prices increase during every quarter of 2019 above wage growth,” which rose just 2.7% from a year earlier.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, 65.1% of Americans owned their own homes, and nearly 40% were free and clear.

Homeownership is still a goal among millennials, 46% of whom say they someday plan to buy a home in which to spend the rest of their lives, and 37% say they plan to buy something within the next two years, WalletJoy said.

Nearly half (48%) said they have saved for a down payment, 27% said they’d look for a loan from an alternative lender for the down payment while 15% said they would tap into retirement savings and 14% would go to the bank of mom and dad.

The poll, which was conducted by YouGov, queried 1,277 adults Jan. 14-15.