The Real Cost of Home Repairs

The Real Cost of Home Repairs

A PolicyMap and Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia joint project.

Though the safety and quality of housing has improved in the United States over the last several decades, problems with substandard housing conditions and disrepair persist in many neighborhoods. To discover how severe and costly home repair needs really are, PolicyMap and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia embarked on a research project to answer the question—how much investment would it take to repair all occupied housing in the United States?

Our Joint Study Shows

$126.9 billion
needed for housing repairs
$2,920 average cost
of repairs for houses in disrepair
More than 1/3
of occupied homes need repair
1 in 20
homes need more than $5,000 in repairs

In order to craft effective policies, housing experts need to know what level of investment, in dollars, is needed to bring homes into good repair. Researchers from PolicyMap and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia have created a new measure that assigns a repair estimate to every occupied housing unit surveyed in the American Housing Survey. This measure allows us to explore in more detail what kinds of households, in terms of geographic, demographic, and housing unit characteristics, need the most expensive repairs.

The research team is currently developing forthcoming neighborhood-level estimates that will ultimately reveal the extent of local home repair needs, informing the best policy and programmatic ways to address them.


Get our Repair Cost Estimates

Find out the extent and cost of the housing repair needs in your metro area, and compare it to others across the United States. Under development – census tract and zipcode level estimates.

Download Data


Explore repair costs across the U.S.


Measuring and Understanding Home Repair Costs: A National Typology of Households

Our statistical analysis of the new Repair Cost Estimates groups households with repair needs based on shared characteristics such as renter vs owner, age of housing, and income. This report, published as a Federal Reserve Bank Special Report, reveals that although home repair needs are greater for low-income renters and homeowners, they are also present among middle- and upper-income households.  Learn which groups bear the brunt of the costliest and most extensive repairs, and which areas of the country have the greatest needs.

Download Report


Read about our study in Cityscape, a publication of the Office of Policy Development and Research at HUD.

Housing quality is inequitably distributed across socioeconomic lines.  At the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and PolicyMap we have quantified repair needs and housing quality to measure the problem.

Read more.


Thanks to the following members of the committee that provided guidance and feedback on this work:

Kermit F. Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA
Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, Project Director of the Remodeling Futures Program; Chief Economist for the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C.
George R. Carter
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Paul Emrath, PhD
Vice President for Survey and Housing Policy Research, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
Ira Goldstein, PhD
President, Policy Solutions, Reinvestment Fund
Lauren Lambie-Hanson
Principal Financial Economist, Supervision, Regulation, and Credit, Consumer Finance Institute, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Lance Loethen
Vice President of Research, Opportunity Finance Network
Lisa Mensah
President and CEO, Opportunity Finance Network
Jacob Rosch
Senior Policy Analyst, Policy Solutions, Reinvestment Fund
Larry Santucci
Senior Research Fellow, Consumer Finance Institute, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Matthew B. Streeter
Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau
Lance George
Director of Research and Information, Housing Assistance Council

Additional thanks to Joseph Kelble at Gordian and Dave Huber at Kaliber Construction for being generous with their time and expertise.

National Repair Costs By Age of Home

Chart showing repair costs by year housing unit was built

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