Might Millennials’ Dissatisfaction Hint At Housing Downturn To Come?

You know the drill: Buyer's remorse. Getting what you wanted and then wondering if the thrill of the chase and the capture will give way to unexpected regret.

Buying a house is no small undertaking. The scrimping, saving, and in some cases, going to the Bank of Mom and Dad.

News came this week, as noted across sites such as CNBC, that millennial homeownership has been creeping along. Consider the fact that only one in three people under the age of 35 own a home, and data from the Census Bureau show that pace is 8 percentage points below the homeownership rate that has been seen in previous generations.

The pace might hint at a long-term trend that would see, we would wager, a glut if it doesn’t pick up. Remember that a big chunk of buying power is concentrated in this generation’s collective wallet, and that if older generations start to unload housing, those homes would presumably stay on the market unless younger buyers — you know, the ones with new jobs and new families — come in to snap them up.

There is a more troubling stat to note, as well. Bankrate polled 1,500 homeowners, and found that 63 percent of millennials say they have regrets about having bought the home they are in. That compares markedly unfavorably with the only 35 percent of baby boomers who state they have regrets. By way of contrast, too, roughly 50 percent of Generation X homeowners say they have regrets about their home-buying choices.

Key to that regret were the financial costs of owning and maintaining the house after the sale. Plus they bought into a market where housing prices were heady, and 18 of millennial buyers said they bought homes that were too small.

Millennials surpassed Generation X in terms of home-buying via dollars spent at the end of last year. As reported, they had a 42 percent share of loan volume by December of last year, where that share was 40 percent for Generation X and 17 percent for boomers. But the down payments taken on were roughly 8.8 percent, compared to 11.9 percent for Generation X and 17.7 percent for boomers. The implication is millennials have taken on more debt — right into a period when debt is becoming increasingly tougher to shoulder especially with, say, credit cards, where debt can have variable interest rates.

Hmm. Housing too small, too expensive to buy in the first place, and tough to maintain. Not great ingredients for a stew of contentment, which makes millennial housing satisfaction our fizzle of the week.


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The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.