Housing Market Revving Up, But Wary Homeowners Still Want Peace Of Mind
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (May 30, 2013) – Summer is moving season in the United States, the time when families are most likely to relocate to a new home in a new community with new schools, new neighbors and new opportunities.
After a long and punishing recession, the housing market is once more picking up steam. In April, home sales racked up their strongest month of the year, growing 16.2 percent over April 2012, according to REAL Trends. And the average price of homes sold in April, 2013 increased by 7.9% over the previous year. Those numbers marked the 13th consecutive month of rising home sale prices.
Moreover, while prices are rising, they are coming up from historical lows, so it is a good time for both buyers and sellers.
Consumers are more optimistic and on the move again, but a recent national survey of homeowners by TotalProtect, a consumer product of Cross Country Home Services (CCHS), one of the country's leading providers of home warranty products and maintenance plans, showed that the economic battering consumers underwent in recent years has left them still anxious, without much of a financial cushion and very interested in products that will help protect their investment, be it a new home or a remodeled kitchen.
The TotalProtect survey of more than 1,000 homeowners in the continental U.S. asked what dollar amount needed to fix or replace an appliance or home system would push a homeowner "over your personal financial cliff." More than one-third of all respondents said that any unanticipated expense of less than $1,000 would do it. Sixty-two percent of homeowners who expressed a financial cliff dollar amount said that an upper limit of $2,000 or less would push them over the edge.
CCHS addresses that anxiety by offering 20 different types of warranty products for consumers, tailoring them to meet the specific needs of the market – whether it's a first-time homebuyer with little experience with repair costs, a homeowner who wants to protect a remodeling investment, or an older homeowner who wants warranty protection to help them manage on a fixed income. CCHS also provides customizable service protection products for partners in the mortgage, banking, insurance, real estate and utility industries to help them provide that peace of mind that builds brand and customer loyalty.
The foundation of the value of all those products is as it has always been: home service contracts offer peace of mind, mitigating the financial risks of a breakdown or failure of an appliance or home system.
Today, 85 percent of U.S. adults who describe themselves as middle class say it's more difficult to maintain their standard of living than it was 10 years ago, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
It is understandable, then, why so many homeowners still are on edge and why affordable products that provide another measure of security would have value to them. Our volatile recent economic past also suggests why service contracts can help lenders, brokers, insurers and other services providers connect with customers who are looking to mitigate risk ... and who want to mitigate risk for their businesses as well.
As today's recession-wary homeowners reenter the housing market and contemplate a move this summer, they know they are likely to have to put more money down and that the opportunities to leverage the equity they have invested may be more limited by their lenders than in the past.
They can't afford a big mistake. And today, when every home appliance, device or major home heating or air conditioning system comes with touch screens and computer controls, costs for repair or replacement easily can run into big numbers.
That consumer concern about making a wrong purchasing or repair decision was strongly evident in the recent TotalProtect survey. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents said they found the process of replacing or repairing a major appliance or home system challenging.
Many homeowners, the CCHS survey showed, were challenged by the entire process of dealing with a broken system, including how to find someone who can help, when to replace rather than repair a home appliance or system and whether the work was done properly.
As one survey respondent noted, "[It's] hard to know who to trust when you don't know much about the specific repair work needed."
Families moving into new neighborhoods this summer that are many miles from their old ones also may face the challenge of also not knowing their new communities well enough to be comfortable seeking neighborly advice.
CCHS has made such issues a priority in designing and supporting all of its products. The company maintains a national database of more than 40,000 highly qualified, independent service partners to address customer claims. To become part of the CCHS network, the company uses a real-time assessment system with more than 30 weighted attributes to evaluate prospective repair contractors, including their licenses and insurance, BBB standing, their technical abilities and their proficiency in dealing with non-English speaking customers.
"We understand that finding a reputable repair person can be difficult for most families," said Sandra Finn, CCHS president. "We continually measure the performance of our service partners to ensure that customers receive top-quality workmanship and service delivery. It's this track record that has allowed us to double our service partner 90-day workmanship guarantee and offer customers a 180-day guarantee - the best in the industry."
The great news is that the housing market is coming back, and America is again on the move this summer. CCHS wants to keep the momentum going, whether you're moving to a new home or are ready for a new kitchen. Find out more about what we can do to make home management easier by visiting: www.cchs.com.
About Cross Country Home Services
Cross Country Home Services, Inc. (CCHS) is dedicated to making home management easy by offering a full selection of hassle-free, cost-effective home solutions, including warranty products and maintenance plans. Since 1978, the company has built a reputation for excellence and today is one of the nation's leading providers of these products and services. Consumers can buy home warranties and home maintenance plans directly from CCHS or through select affinity partners in mortgage, banking, insurance, real estate and utilities industries. Products include some of the industry's best known brands, including TotalProtect Home Warranty, Home Protect Warranty and HMS Home Warranty. The company's customer care staff is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is dedicated to ensuring the highest level of service. Homeowner needs are quickly resolved through a national network of over 40,000 service providers, the largest in the industry. Headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., CCHS is a member of the Cross Country Group. To learn more about CCHS, please visit www.cchs.com.