Selected Monthly Owner Costs
The data on selected monthly owner costs were obtained from Housing Questions 11 and Questions 17 through 21 in the 2011 American Community Survey. The data were obtained for owner-occupied units. Selected monthly owner costs are the sum of payments for mortgages, deeds of trust, contracts to purchase, or similar debts on the property (including payments for the first mortgage, second mortgages, home equity loans, and other junior mortgages); real estate taxes; fire, hazard, and flood insurance on the property; utilities (electricity, gas, and water and sewer); and fuels (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). It also includes, where appropriate, the monthly condominium fee for condominiums (Question 13) and mobile home costs (Question 21) (installment loan payments, personal property taxes, site rent, registration fees, and license fees). Selected monthly owner costs were tabulated for all owner-occupied units, and usually are shown separately for units "with a mortgage" and for units "not mortgaged."
Selected monthly owner costs provide information on the monthly housing cost expenses for owners. When the data is used in conjunction with income data, the information offers an excellent measure of housing affordability and excessive shelter costs. The data also serve to aid in the development of housing programs to meet the needs of people at different economic levels.
Adjusting Selected Monthly Owner Costs for Inflation
To inflate selected monthly owner costs from previous years, the dollar values are inflated to the latest year's dollar values by multiplying by a factor equal to the average annual Consumer Price Index (CPI-U- RS) factor for the current year, divided by the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the earlier/earliest year.
Median Selected Monthly Owner Costs
This measure divides the selected monthly owner costs distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median selected monthly owner costs and one-half above the median. Medians are shown separately for units "with a mortgage" and for units "not mortgaged." Median selected monthly owner costs are computed on the basis of a standard distribution. (See the "Standard Distributions" section under "Appendix A.") Median selected monthly owner costs are rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
Since 1996, the American Community Survey questions have been the same. The American Community Survey collected the monthly cost of electricity and gas, and the 12-month cost of water and sewer. Since 2004, selected monthly owner costs has been shown for all owner-occupied housing units. In previous years (1996-2003), the question was shown only for specified owner-occupied housing units.
Caution should be used when comparing selected monthly owner costs data between the American Community Survey and Census 2000. For Census 2000, tables for both total owner-occupied housing units and specified owner-occupied housing units were released, thus comparisons can be made only when comparing the same universes between the two data sets. Additionally, for Census 2000 tables with full distributions were released for total owner-occupied housing units but medians were not shown.