There is no shortage of opinions or statistics about where and how the Millennial generation is choosing to live. We hear tropes all the time about how the young generation is flocking to urban areas, but at the same time there’s a constant drone about how they’re staying in mom and dad’s basement.
Articles abound, discussing how Millennials cannot afford to buy (or even rent in a lot of cities!) because they are saddled with debts from college. Housing costs are skyrocketing, while news stories tell us all about how Millennials are lazy, entitled, and always glued to a screen.
Millennials, like all Americans, understand the value of homeownership, but our goals and our realities may not always make owning a home a possibility, and cities, governments, and responsible developers have a role to play in helping us (and all us 99%) figure out ways to make our living choices possible, whether we rent or buy.
The signs that Millennials are ready to buy are out there: According to a Trulia analysis of Census Bureau data, in the first quarter of 2017, more new households were formed as a purchase rather than a lease, the first time that happened in 11 years.
Other data shows that in 65% of the country, an average mortgage is less than the average rent!
Regardless of generation, one can see the value in that. Some developers are taking the path of trying to get more starter homes on the market after many years flooding the market with luxury units and McMansions.
There was a 27% increase (up to 31% of the market total) in speculative new homes under 2,250 square feet from January to March in 2017 versus the same period in 2016. And with the trend of more dense urban living, some developers are also buying and reselling homes in and around city centers where there is less land for redevelopment.
But, there are still plenty of factors pointing to a love (or need) for renting. Many Millennials are simply not ready to take the plunge into ownership, knowing that a lease can offer attractive features that a mortgage just cannot.
Others are suffering from the 8% unemployment rate for their generation and spending their money on their portion of the $1 trillion in student debt loan instead of the often 10% down payment required to purchase a home – not to mention the convenience of avoiding ongoing maintenance and repairs, insurance, etc that are not typically required with a lease.
Consider too that many apartments today offer gyms, pools, connectivity, possibly a concierge – things not available to a homeowner. And while the tides may be changing, many apartments are still located in more community-oriented areas of town than an affordable home, with easier access to culture, nightlife, and public transit among other perks. Unlike with a purchase, a lease is temporary, so it’s very easy to pack up and leave when or if the desire strikes.
In sum, while it’s as easy to point out facts, figures, and opinions about Millennials as it has been and still is for Boomers, Gen X, and all those who preceded and will follow them, the takeaway is that each generation is made up of multi-faceted individuals with a huge variety of tastes, goals, and means. Markets shift over time and there will always be innumerable different combinations of needs, wants, and abilities when it comes to where we choose to live.