Move over washer and dryer, Americans want to protect their home down payment.

Many Americans have been fortunate enough to enjoy the unforgettable experience of buying a home and others look forward to that important milestone. After deciding on a dream home to buy – or a slightly-less-than-ideal home at today’s high prices – homebuyers start to tackle that long to-do list to take care of their new home and maximize their enjoyment of their new nest.

To learn more about homebuyers’ priorities, ValueInsured has used its quarterly Modern Homebuyer Survey to explore what types of home-buying related challenges keep them up at night, what they are willing to give up to fit within their budget. In the latest survey, ValueInsured posed this hypothetical question:  If you had $10 per month to spend to insure and protect one thing in your new home, what would you choose to spend that $10 on?

For research efficiency, the question was not open-ended. Over 1,000 American homeowners and interested homebuyers were given five choices to spend their $10 per month on:

  1. To insure and protect your dishwasher in case it breaks down and needs repair or replacement
  2. To insure and protect your washer and dryer in case they break down and need repair or replacement
  3. To insure and protect your mobile phone in case it breaks down and needs repair or replacement
  4. To insure and protect your boiler in case it breaks down and needs repair or replacement
  5. To insure and protect your down payment investment in case you need to sell your home in a down market and lose your down payment

Here are the results that indicates American homeowners’ and homebuyers’ priorities, and there are surprises:

  • 6% would rather spend that $10 a month to insure and protect their dishwasher. It is somewhat surprising that 6% would choose to protect a dishwasher over washer, dryer or boiler, which are often more costly to replace or repair. Some possible explanations are many households use their dishwasher everyday so it is rather indispensable, or may be to some homeowners, it is a piece of household appliance that is most prone to malfunctions.  
  • 10% choose their mobile phone. Now this is actually a surprise to the researchers. Considering how indispensable a phone is today to most Americans, the mobile phone was predicted to command a much higher perceived need for protection. One possible explanation is that Americans may believe their phones rarely break down. Or it is possible they upgrade to a new phone every few years anyway, so they do not see the need to send $10 x 24-36 months to protect it and would rather spend that investment on their next upgraded phone. The number is higher for Millennials, at 13%. However, it is still lower than what the researchers expected.
  • Only 11% surveyed would spend that $10 a month to insure and protect their washer and dryer. This is also surprising, considering how regularly washer and dryer warranty policies appear to be offered to home appliance shoppers and how expensive it could be to replace these machines. But according to Consumer Reports’ research in 2016, 12% of shoppers purchased a warranty program when they bought a washer and dryer online. This is certainly in line with ValueInsured’s reported 11%, so it appears the latter’s finding is not that surprising after all.
  • 16% choose their boiler. Among homeowners who live in a rural area, 19% would choose to protect their boiler. Researchers of this survey also expected more Americans to prioritize protecting their boiler, given the typical high expense of replacement and repair. 
  • If given only one choice, 58% of all surveyed homeowners and homebuyers choose to spend $10 to protect and insure their home down payment. In other words, more homeowners and homebuyers would prioritize protecting their down payment over their dishwasher, mobile phone, washer, dryer and their boiler combined.

Perhaps these results are not surprising given that while home appliances and machineries are very costly to replace, those expenses would pale in comparison to what most homebuyers put into their home down payments. Homeowners may also feel more confident and in control about keeping their boiler and mobile phone in good working order. If they take care of them, don’t drop them, you should be good for a while. Whereas homeowners don’t really have control over where their local real estate prices are headed. A variety of complex factors – some local, some global, many often unpredictable – are beyond the homeowner’s control. Just a 5% drop in local real estate values could mean a loss of tens of thousands or more of their down payments.  In that light, protecting one's down payment for $10 a month can certainly be seen as a great value.