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Homeownership Costs Have Exploded Since Start Of Pandemic As Inflation Drags On

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Owen Klinksy Contributor
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Homeownership costs have surged since pandemic lockdowns began four years ago due to inflation, soaring insurance premiums and rising utility costs, according to a study from personal finance website Bankrate.

The mean annual cost of owning and maintaining a typical single-family home, based on Redfin’s median sales price of $436,291, reached $18,118 in March, Bankrate reported. This represents a 26% increase from 2020 when the average annual outlay for owning and maintaining a home was $14,428.

Bankrate’s estimates come from tracking the cost of a basket of expenses that includes property taxes, homeowners insurance, home maintenance costs, energy costs and internet and cable bills.

The spike in homeownership costs is driven largely by inflation. Between March 2020 and March 2024 cumulative inflation was 21%, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this does not account for the differential between the 21% cumulative inflation experienced in the broader economy and the 26% increase in homeownership costs.

This differential stems largely from insurance premiums. On top of inflation and an uptick in natural disasters, insurance companies have faced increased “litigation abuse” in which plaintiffs sue insurers for exaggerated damages, according to Bankrate. (RELATED: Crime, Inflation Driving Up Auto Insurance Costs For Average Americans)

Florida has been particular wrought with litigation; despite accounting for just 9% of insurance claims in the United States, Florida was responsible for 79% of the country’s home insurance lawsuits in 2021, according to a proclamation from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

This has resulted in Florida property insurers reporting underwriting losses of $1.52 billion and $1.8 billion in 2021 and 2022 respectively, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

These underwriting losses, in turn, drive insurers to limit their exposure to the Florida market. “Between home insurance companies going insolvent, limiting their risk or leaving the state altogether, Florida has lost over 30 insurance providers — or some form of coverage from these providers — in the past three years,” Bankrate reported in December 2023.

The end result of this “litigation abuse,” coupled with an uptick in natural disasters in Florida over the past few years, has caused insurance premiums to soar. Homeowners insurance increased by 102% between 2021 and 2023, Tampa Bay outlet Fox 13 News reported in January.

 

Inflated utility costs also played a significant part in the rising cost of homeownership. Between 2020 and 2024 utility prices rose 28.44% as utility companies spent billions in an effort to modernize grids and transition the United States from fossil fuels to renewables, News Nation reported.

Home prices continue to outpace home ownership costs with home prices growing 40% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Bankrate.

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