The Short List: Dawn Bennett on Why Millennials Aren’t Buying Homes

by Houston Agent


Dawn Bennett, the founder and CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services

Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Dawn Bennett, the founder and CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services, who shared her thoughts on why millennials aren’t buying homes.

Of all the individuals between the ages of 25 and 34 in your town, chances are that only about 40 percent of them are homeowners. This is surprising given that homeownership for this population segment was once far greater; in 1980 over half of adults between the ages of 24 and 35 owned homes. Millennials are simply less invested in purchasing homes than almost any generation before them, which is has many wondering: why?

4. A Conservative Outlook

Millennials have been coined by some as “The Cheapest Generation,” which helps explain in part why home ownership has fallen off for this age group. Millennials entered adulthood in a time of economic upheaval and instability, watching their parents lose pensions and jobs, or be forced to foreclose on their homes. Millennials have witnessed first-hand the financial burden of home ownership in times of economic strife, resulting in a conservative outlook that has them opting for low-risk apartment rentals instead.

3. Student Loan Debt

While certainly not the sole reason millennials aren’t purchasing homes, student loan debt is a highly limiting factor for many millennials who would otherwise be interested in purchasing a home. Average student loan debt rests at approximately $30,000, with 17 percent of borrowers behind in payments or in default. Managing student loan debt can be crippling for millennials who are already struggling to find high-paying jobs, and the thought of adding on a mortgage payment seems too high a risk.

2. Lower Wages

While the economy certainly isn’t in the dire state it was in 2008, it hasn’t exactly bounced right back from its crippling recession, either. Many college-educated millennials are still struggling to find well-paying jobs in their fields; in fact, wages for young people are growing 60 percent more slowly than wages in the U.S. overall, and the number of millennials earning less than $25,000 a year has increased by 6 million in just the past year. Job growth has also largely remained stagnant despite the optimism we hear from Washington and the media (the economy actually contracted in the first three months of 2015). Millennials in the Midwest are particularly hard hit to find high-paying jobs, and home ownership in this region becomes doubly challenging given that down payments are higher than average.

1. The Nomadic Worker

The Millennial Generation is also more likely than any other generation to move. Though more millennials still live in suburbs than cities, they’re flocking to suburban areas at a slower rate than previous generations, and are more likely to take new jobs that require them to uproot. Forrester Research predicts that today’s young workers will have at least twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime, a significant increase from previous generations of workers. These career-driven, opportunistic millennials therefore see home ownership as an impractical choice. Ultimately, millennials are more invested in capitalizing on opportunities, wherever they may lead, rather than establishing strong roots with the purchase of a home.

Dawn Bennett is the founder and CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services and host of the radio show Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett.

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