The first three parts of this data-rich study focused on the real and perceived affordability crises facing Millennials, their geographic preferences for buying a home, and the macroeconomic issues of Millennial home buying—such as the increasing divergence between the cost of houses and income growth.
The fourth part of the study focuses on what roles past generations play in the current housing market. While 25- to 40-year-olds are looking to purchase a home, they find both help and hindrance from the generations representing their parents and grandparents.
The Legal & General study, U.S. Millennials and Home Ownership – A Distant Dream for Most, features research from a survey of 875 U.S. Millennials in early 2021. Here are some of the notable issues that Millennials report to face in today’s housing market:
“Considering that homeownership is a fundamental way to build wealth, it bodes poorly for Millennials that affordable housing is becoming increasingly inaccessible to them. We should be meeting the demand by creating more opportunity, not less, for homeownership.” — John Godfrey, Study Co-Author and Legal & General Corporate Affairs Director
EVERYONE WANTS A SMALL HOUSE
The young generation of homebuyers has been facing an interesting dilemma, primarily influenced by COVID-19. Consumers are downsizing. More specifically, Baby Boomers have grown an increased fear in retirement homes and care facilities since the start of the global pandemic—understandably so.
In turn, they’re ditching retirement homes for their own bite-sized properties. These would be the smaller single-family homes that Millennials are looking for as a starter home. The younger generation cannot afford anything more luxurious in the current market. Retirees, however, have the time and cash flow to snatch up these new homes as they appear.
According to the study, Millennials do not have these same opportunities. This has led them to feel disillusioned and resentful of older generations.
“The American dream never really existed before, but it’s dead for Millennials. Boomers took advantage of many things then got rid of those programs for us. Prices for everything increased, unions have been dismantled or impossible to start. And wages are stagnant or falling, with increasing inflation and cost of living.” — Survey participant
… WITH HELP FROM MOM AND DAD
Millennials acknowledge the awkward quandary these issues have left them in. They are aware that despite these problems, they are often still the beneficiaries of the older generation’s largesse. The Legal & General study even finds that nearly 25% of young homebuyers needed to be gifted or loaned money from their family in order to make a down payment.
In an earlier study by Legal & General, The Bank of Mom and Dad, a majority (58%) of older respondents admitted that they thought Millennials have a much tougher time saving to purchase property. Most (71%) respondents blamed the increasingly high cost of property prices.
However, Millennials are facing many challenges other than older generations buying out the supply of homes. A much less visible factor is the 1% of homes purchased and kept off the market by private equity investors and iBuyers (real estate companies who purchase properties directly from the seller to eventually re-sell them).
“It is harder for my generation to own a home than it was for those who are currently in control of who gets to own a home, and they don't care or refuse to see it...” — Survey participant
A BROKEN SYSTEM, OR JUST ECONOMICS?
iBuyer companies like Zillow and OfferPad have collectively purchased almost 11,000 homes in 2020 alone. This is a potential issue to homebuyers who are already facing increased housing prices.
Companies like Zillow Offers are purchasing homes for renovations, then relisting them on the market for a higher amount. This has been met with fierce public backlash, so much so that Zillow Offers is currently facing big financial losses.
In this case, Millennials not only have to worry about being out-bid by Baby Boomers, but corporate leaders and investors as well.
In addition to market competition, Millennials struggle financially from skyrocketing student loan debt, underemployment, and lack of qualification for loans, according to the study. However, Legal & General believes there are more solutions than currently available in order to lessen the national dilemma.
To read about Legal & General’s vision, and to read more in-depth about the fourth part of this study, you can download the PDF (for free) under this article.
The fifth and final part of the Millennials and Home Ownership study will focus on how the student debt crisis and various medical expenses prevent Millennials from saving for their future (to be released at a later time).