A few weeks ago my mother asked me if I’d started to think about buying a place.
Buying a home? “This is NYC. No one really buys these days” I responded.
She also typically asks me questions like “When are you getting married?” or “When are you having kids?” You know, typical mom questions, but let’s stick with houses for now…
Was she right? Was buying a home/apartment something I should be putting more thought into? If anything, was it worth re-envisioning what buying a home really meant? Hell, the three friends I was heading to dinner with that night all owned homes (but only one in NYC).
Here’s the thing, unless you live in Des Moines, Iowa – the most millennial* friendly renters market where 60% of borrowers who used a mortgage to purchase a home, the path to purchasing a home is, at the very least, a daunting undertaking.
Some news outlets report optimistically that 25-35 make-up the “largest share of homebuyers at 32%”, but the truth is this age range has typically purchased the largest share of homes anyway. It’s just the point in life where Millennials are coming into their own, when they are “expected” to start buying and saving.
Last night, Julián Castro (US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) and the Realtor.com team held an online Town hall on “Millennials & The Housing Market”. You can watch the full stream here.
While the conversation swirled around the widening wealth gap, the slowdown in construction as boomers retire, high deposits needed for mortgages, increased property costs, and the sharing economy–Millennials still seem to be the key the housing industry seeing a financially successful future.
While considered the most educated generation, you would think we would be prospering by leaps and bounds beyond our predeceasing generations, especially as it pertains to financial growth.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
- The average millennial American leaves college $35,000 in debt
- 37% are either not in labor force or unemployed
- 1/3 of millennial are still living with parents
By no means am I a pessimist, we just need to be realistic perspective of the country in which we, the New Americana live in. We also need to be proactive with how we can help support a multi-culturally diverse group of new homeowners.
Fortunately, the U.S. government has begun to take steps:
Earlier this year, the Federal Housing Administration began reducing mortgage insurance premiums on its loans by an average of $900 a year. While the FHA loans typically come with low down payment requirements, they often have higher monthly payments as a result of the mortgage insurance that, unlike conventional loans, continues for the life of the loan, even when 20% equity is reached. Now it appears the mortgage insurance premium reduction is having the desired effect.” -MarketWatch
Additionally, Secretary Castro hinted that as tuition & students debt keep rising, proposals to make two years of college free would help millennials own homes. This may help out some millennials but what about the graduates, many of whom are now in the working force and spending an average of $400 a month just paying off student loans?
For the government (a system which has put such an emphasis of higher education) they MUST do a better job of helping to transition the debt paying into the financially succeeding. Otherwise, we are going to end of with the most educated and financially unstable generation.
For my millennial cohorts, a group who shares apartments, cars, vacations, laptops, really everything, a generation who has chosen their “network over net worth,” we should rethink what owning a home really means. While I’m not a financial advisor, we should really reimagine the ownership of homes as less a lifestyle anchor and burden, but more as a financial foundation.
So back to my mom, who when asked me about owning my own place received the flippant response of “What are you smoking?” I do see the importance of rethinking my attitude towards owning property. If anything, it is going to take applying my expensive college education to work out the best way to affordably purchase a place to call my own. Whether or not that place will be in the five boroughs is a whole other story. I’m going to need a raise to start thinking about that one.
By Russell Markus, Senior Planner
*BTW #1 – I hate that term, Millennial! Ugh, makes me sick. But, let’s just use it to describe an age group of people born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s – not in the context of psychographic, because I refuse to use it that way
**BTW #2 – I fall within the “millennial” age range… I digress. Back to regular schedule programing.