New Poll: 87% of Americans Worry about the Cost of Housing, 76% Say Now Is a Bad Time to Buy a Home [Cato]

By Emily Ekins, Jordan Gygi / December 14, 2022

69% worry their kids and grandkids won’t be able to afford a home, 64% would support building more homes if it helped making housing more affordable

The Cato 2022 Housing Affordability Survey, a new national poll of 2,000 U.S. adults, finds that 87% of Americans are concerned about the cost of housing. With housing prices up more than 40% nationally since 2019 and interest rates on the rise, it’s no surprise that 76% of Americans say that now is a bad time to buy a house. Moreover, more than two-thirds (69%) worry their children and grandchildren won’t be able to afford a home. For most Americans, it seems like a dream that is slipping out of reach.

Americans are modestly supportive (51%) of zoning reforms that would allow more building of homes, condos, and apartments in their community. However, support rises more than 20 points to 72% in favor if construction made housing more affordable for young people and young families.

Democrats, Renters, and City Residents are Most Supportive of Zoning Reform

A slim majority (51%) of Americans support building more homes, apartments, or condos in their community, an action that has the potential to decrease housing costs. While nearly two-​thirds (63%) of Democrats support more home construction in their community, majorities of Republicans (61%) and independents (53%) oppose it. In a similar fashion, 65% of renters support more home building while a majority (57%) of current homeowners oppose it. In addition, those who live in big cities are more supportive of additional housing (61%) than those who live in suburbs (47%) and those who live in rural areas (37%).

People Support More Construction if it Helped Kids and Grandkids Buy Homes

Americans become more supportive of building additional housing if it makes homes more affordable for “people” (64%), young people and young families (72%), people of color (67%), and people with low incomes (63%).

Republicans are especially persuaded by the idea that additional housing will help make homes more affordable for young people and young families. While only 39% of Republicans support building more homes generally, 64% support building if it makes housing more affordable for young people and young families. Democratic support rises even higher to 82% if more construction made it easier for young people to move in. Emily Ekins, the Director of Polling explained, “The data indicates that a bipartisan consensus for zoning reform emerges when people consider the needs of future generations–especially their kids and grandkids.”

86% of Americans Prefer Owning a Home to Renting, 89% Favor a Single-​Family Home

For most Americans (86%), owning their own home is preferable to renting. This includes 90% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats. Most Americans also idealize the single-family home: 89% of Americans, including 86% of Democrats and 95% of Republicans, would prefer living in a single-​family home to living in a condo or townhome.

But people differ in where they want that single-​family home to reside. Republicans (58%) would prefer a single-​family home in the countryside, while Democrats would prefer a single-​family home in a city (22%) or the suburbs of a city (34%). In addition, 62% of Republicans prefer a home that is larger and further from other homes, at the expense of proximity to schools, stores, and restaurants, compared to only 36% of Democrats.

Americans are deeply concerned about the cost of housing in the United States. They are also pessimistic about the options future generations will have to buy their own homes. However, the public is open to zoning reforms that would make it easier to build single-​family homes, townhomes, and condos–especially if it helps young families move in.



The Cato Institute 2022 Housing Affordability Survey was designed and conducted by the Cato Institute in collaboration with YouGov. YouGov collected responses online August 17–23, 2022, from a national sample of 2,000 Americans, 18 years of age and older. Restrictions are put in place to ensure that only the people selected and contacted by YouGov are allowed to participate. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.39 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

The topline questionnaire, full methodology, and report of the survey findings can be found here.

Reprinted with permission.