The complex millennial generation stirs up a lot of talk in the mortgage industry, mostly because they have come to be known as the financially unstable and indecisive, renter generation in the housing market. While some of these labels do prove true, this generation is just mostly misunderstood, one analysis found.
The remnants of the housing crisis are making difficult for the 18- to 34-year-old cohort to break into homeownership, according to an in-depth analysis by USA TODAY's Hadley Malcolm.
"Young buyers are caught in a quandary. Owning a home has many benefits, including tax breaks and the potential to build value, plus mortgage payments are often lower than rent for a comparable home—especially over the long term," Malcolm wrote. "But in some cities, rent can be so high that it's difficult, if not impossible, to save the recommended 20 percent down payment."
Down payments are one barrier that young buyers face in the housing market. According to Zillow data, analyzed by George Petras of USA TODAY, in Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, buyers would need to put 48.8 percent of their monthly income toward a rent payment, while only 39.9 percent of monthly income would go toward a mortgage payment. The same trend continues in other markets like San Francisco; Miami/Fort Lauderdale; and New York/N. New Jersey, where monthly rent payments outpace a monthly mortgage payment, but young buyers are often not able to save a down payment for a home.
"There are a lot of places to lay blame, and it's not just high rents."
Malcolm noted that the "challenges presented by the current housing market to first-time buyers have put many on a prolonged path to the American dream." Even more interesting is the fact that millennials most strongly associate the American Dream with homeownership compared to other generations but less than 10 percent of them actually plan to buy a home in the next year.
According to Zillow's Housing Confidence Index, of millennials, 65.3 percent associate the American Dream with owning a home, but only 9.2 percent of them expect to purchase a home in the next year. Another 7.6 percent indicated that they are not sure about buying a home, while 1.8 percent said they never would.
"There are a lot of places to lay blame, and it's not just high rents. Many point to crushing student debt loads. But the real culprits, say experts, are the housing crisis and the Great Recession, which forced many Americans into foreclosure," Malcolm said. "Many who didn't lose their homes found themselves with negative equity — owing more to their lender than a fair market price. This is commonly referred to as being underwater in a mortgage, and when homeowners feel like they are drowning, they tend to stay put. That leads to not enough affordable supply to meet the demand."
Millennial homeownership rates are down to 34.2 percent as the first quarter of 2016 from 39.8 percent in 2009.
"Many young people have given up—at least for now. Homeownership rates among people under 35 are on the decline, and it's not clear when that trend will reverse," Malcolm penned.
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