Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996 (according to Pew Research) have been blamed for everything from the death of the diamond industry to Applebee’s and similar chain restaurants not being able to turn a profit. Now, they’ve set their sites on the real estate industry.
Millennials aren’t buying homes, at least, not as often as the generations before them. However, it’s not because they don’t want to (well, usually). In fact, 93% of millennials say that they intend to buy a home someday. Here are 4 reasons millennials aren’t buying homes at comparable rates to the generations before them.
The simple fact is that, due to a number of different factors, home ownership is less affordable for millennials than the generations before them. As home values and salaries have gotten further and further apart, many in the current generation of young adults simply can’t qualify for a mortgage.
Millennials were told that, without at least a bachelor’s degree, they might not be able to secure a job outside of a fast food restaurant, let alone a career that gave their life some sort of meaning and the ability to make a living. So off they went to college, where they paid for their degrees with student loans. The good news is they’re an educated generation. The bad news is that they now owe most of the 1.2 trillion of student loan debt in the U.S.
So many millennials aren’t making enough to cover basic living expenses that more of them are living with their parents than any generation since the 1800s, like 30% of them. This means that the idea of being tied to a mortgage is terrifying to a lot of millennials, and saving for a down payment is a ridiculous pipe dream.
One reason they’re broke is that rent is more expensive than it was for generations past as demand for rentals has increased due to lower numbers of home buyers. Between 2004 and 2015, average rent prices increased 3%. Or maybe it’s the lattes and avocado obsession.
There are several ways that changing ideals mean that home ownership just isn’t as important to millennials as it was before.
First, they aren’t getting married or having kids as young, so more people are soaring through the prime home buying years single and childless. As the median age for marriage is now 30 rather than the 23 it was in the 70s and the average age women are having kids has followed that trend, too, buying a home gets put on the backburner until it’s necessary.
Many millennials also prefer the flexibility that comes with renting. It leaves them more able to move for work and change their living situation if their financial situation were to suddenly change.
Millennials are, generally speaking, warier of making expensive purchases, particularly if they don’t see it as a legitimate need. This applies to homes, cars, and luxury goods like TVs and designer bags.
The American Dream certainly isn’t the same, as incomes have not risen nearly as fast as the cost of living over the past decade. Once, if you went to work every day for 40 years, you could afford to buy a home, feed your family, and retire at a decent age, but that’s not the reality for most Americans today. The world we live in today isn’t the same as the one baby boomers raised their families in, and the downturn in home ownership is just one consequence of that.