According to a new COUNTRY Financial survey, there is a gap in Americans' ability-to-pay their mortgage if they became unemployed. Approximately 70 percent claim if they lost their job, they wouldn't be able to make mortgage payments after nine months. That period is shorter than the current average unemployment length of nearly 10 months. This "mortgage gap" is more pronounced for some. Thirty-one percent say they would be able to maintain payments for just three to six months, and around 25 percent would only be able to pay for less than three months. This divide might be why more than half of homeowners now question whether buying a house is the best investment a family can make (59 percent).
"The housing market decline and high unemployment has put a strain on everyone. Although there's no quick fix, having a financial safety net can help. If possible, start an emergency fund to offset those unexpected life changes like unemployment," said Keith Brannan, vice president of financial security planning. "If you're concerned about your mortgage, seeking professional advice to reprioritize your income can help you protect your current possessions and budget for future expenses."
A majority of Americans (54 percent) say their home lost at least 10 percent of its value during the housing market decline. Despite this loss, many peoples' retirement still hinges on the investment made in their home. Sixty-eight percent say their home's value is very or somewhat important to their retirement plan.
Eighteen to 29-year-olds (83 percent) were most likely to stress this importance. They were at least 11 points higher than other age groups.
Over the last year, 63 percent of homeowners reviewed their home insurance coverage. Another 19 percent reviewed their coverage in the last two years.
"It's encouraging to see Americans are taking the time to inspect their homeowners insurance," said Brannan. "Ensuring you have the right protection for your home is essential, especially for those whose home's value is important to their retirement."