Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is part of the millennial generation. For many years, millennials weren't buying homes at the same rates as previous generations. In 2019, only 43% of millennials owned homes, which was well below the national average of 65% when taking every other generation into account.
Even though millennials were old enough to purchase homes in 2019 (23 to 38 years old), there are numerous factors that have caused this generation to avoid buying homes at the same rate as previous generations. However, 2022 marks a notable change in millennial homeownership.
What Kept Millennials From Buying Homes?
There are many reasons why millennials haven't purchased homes at the same rate as other generations. Some of the primary factors that have contributed to less interest in homeownership among millennials include:
- Entering the job market during the Great Recession
- Higher amounts of debt from student loans
- Stagnant wages
- Delayed marriage
- Rising home prices
- Low inventory
The financial challenges that many young adults have were exacerbated by the fallout from the Great Recession. Keep in mind that 40% of all unemployed individuals in 2009 were between the ages of 15-24 years old. The federal minimum wage has been at $7.25 since 2009 despite some states increasing their minimum wages. Even though the cost of living has increased substantially over the past few decades, median wages only grew by around 0.3% each year from 2007-2017. These factors combined to make it more difficult for millennials to buy homes.
Why Millennial Homeownership is Increasing
When the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, buying a home became more appealing as a result of the reduced monthly payments. It wasn't until 2022, however, that millennials started buying homes at a higher rate than anticipated. While only 43% of all millennials owned a home in 2019, this same age group has accounted for around 43% of homebuyers in 2022.
What this data tells us is that millennials are now the primary generation that's buying homes. The vice president of demographics for the National Association of Realtors, Jessica Lautz, believes that "Some young adults have used the pandemic to their financial advantage by paying down debt and cutting the cost of rent by moving in with family." By saving up money during the first two years of the pandemic, millennials who were in a poor financial situation before the pandemic may now be at a point where they can afford to buy a home.
Millennials are also aging into more financial security, with steadier jobs and higher incomes in their 30’s and 40’s. Rising home prices haven’t helped, but homeownership rates increase considerably when looking at millennials who are around the age of 40. An increase in remote work post-pandemic has also allowed more millennials and Gen Zers to move to smaller, more affordable cities and improve their homebuying prospects.
In the coming months, it will be interesting to see what happens as interest rates continue to rise. Even though housing prices have increased by nearly 19% since March 2021, this clearly hasn't caused millennials to become less eager to become homeowners.