Americans are willing to do whatever it takes to make their homeownership goals a reality — including taking on a side job, cutting expenses and considering a less-expensive location — according to a new Wells Fargo survey.

Nearly half of Americans who are saving to buy or renovate a home have done work outside their primary job to supplement their income to pay for it, results from the Wells Fargo 2019 “How America Views Homeownership” survey. The survey was conducted by the Harris Poll in April among 1,004 U.S. adults. Among other findings: 
  • Nearly 8 in 10 non-homeowners (78%) say they would be willing to accept their second choice of a city or town in order to afford their own home.
  • Nearly three-quarters of non-homeowners (74%) say they would be willing to buy a smaller home with fewer amenities.
  • Over 7 in 10 Americans (72%) say they would give up something to save for a down payment, including dining out (44%), going to events (43%) and vacations (38%).

"Homeownership is part of the fabric of American life, defining communities and providing a base for families to live out their dreams,” said Michael DeVito, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending. “As today’s consumers set out to achieve their homeownership goals, they are making smart financial decisions that position them — and the communities they call home — for long-term financial success.”

The No. 1 hurdle to buying for Americans is saving for the down payment. More than 1 in 4 (27%) say the down payment is the biggest barrier, and it’s even more pronounced for millennials, with 38% calling out the down payment as the biggest challenge to buying a home.

This attitude has persisted since the first Wells Fargo “How America Views Homeownership” survey was conducted in 2014, when 24% of respondents said saving enough for a down payment was the biggest barrier to buying. That’s despite the fact that some mortgage programs allow qualified buyers to put down as little as 3%.

Many Americans continue to have misperceptions about what it takes to increase their opportunity to get financing for a home, the latest survey confirmed. Accordingly, Wells Fargo says it’s focused on supporting homeownership and homebuyer education. 

Wells Fargo announced last month plans to donate $1 billion to organizations that support affordable housing through 2025, and launched a $20 million grant to encourage organizations to find new solutions for the lack of lack of low- to moderate-income housing options.