According to a recent survey commissioned by Redfin and executed by Qualtrics, a significant portion of millennials feel they may never own a home. This sentiment is echoed by their younger counterparts, the Gen Z cohort.
The Affordability Challenge
The primary obstacle to homeownership among these young Americans is the sheer cost of houses. Around half of Gen Z and millennial participants who are disinclined to buy a home in the foreseeable future stated that the elevated market prices were the main deterrent. Other significant concerns included:
- An inability to muster a down payment.
- Prohibitive mortgage rates, a sentiment felt by over a third from both generations.
- The financial strain of monthly mortgage installments, with one-third of respondents from both age groups echoing this concern.
- The looming shadow of student loan debt, with 21% of Gen Z and 16% of millennials feeling compelled to settle this before even contemplating homeownership.
The Post-Pandemic Landscape
The pandemic has intensified homeownership challenges, particularly for first-time buyers. With home-sale prices surging by a staggering 40% since 2019 and wages only seeing a relatively modest 20% increase during the same period, the disparity is evident. The initial impetus of remote working conditions and historically low mortgage rates drove a spike in demand. However, with mortgage rates more than doubling recently, the affordability chasm has only deepened.
“The worsening housing affordability crisis has an outsized impact on Gen Zers and millennials because they’re much less likely to own a home than older generations,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather.
“That means many young Americans don’t benefit from rising home prices by gaining equity. Instead, these would-be first-time homebuyers bear the burden of high prices, high down payments and high monthly mortgage payments, without profits from a previous home to offset the cost. Many young people don’t have a choice between renting and buying. They’re renting their home because even though rent payments have increased, too, it’s still more affordable than buying in much of the country–and renters don’t need a down payment.”
Homeownership Rates and Strategies
While 71% of Gen Xers and 79% of baby boomers own homes, the figures drop dramatically for younger generations: only 52% for millennials and a mere 26% for Gen Z.
In a bid to bridge the financial gap, many among these younger cohorts are seeking alternative income sources:
- About 40% of both Gen Zers and millennials are taking on side hustles to boost their down payment savings.
- Generous family members are another potential source, with 28% of Gen Z and 23% of millennials hopeful of receiving cash gifts to aid their home purchasing journey.
- Other strategies include using inheritance funds, selling stock, or even capitalizing on cryptocurrency investments.
The Redfin survey provides a sobering glimpse into the challenges faced by younger Americans in the housing market. As the dream of homeownership seems increasingly elusive for many millennials and Gen Zers, it underscores the need for systemic solutions to ensure that these generations aren't left behind.