Millennial homeowners and home buyers: Who’s buying?

There’s no question it takes plenty of muscle and money for first-time homebuyers to get into the real estate market. And it’s never been easy for millennial homeowners to break in. The median age of the first-time homebuyer today is 36 — an all-time high compared to to 33 in 2021 and 29 in 1980.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that millennials — the generation born between 1981 and 1996 — represent the majority (43%) of homebuyers in 2021. Among them, 65% bought a house for the first time.

Overall, the US Census shows that homeownership has declined in the past decade for all age groups, with a notably steeper dip among the younger generations.

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Millennials and the road to homeownership

Homeownership among millennials has been delayed compared to generations before them. Today’s American homebuyer is older than just a few decades ago, and two camps are attempting to explain the trend.

One group believes that millennials can’t afford homes. Yet, the other says that millennials are deliberately delaying homebuying due to a range of reasons that include:

  • Millennials are getting married later.
  • Younger generations are more mobile.
  • Many are taking care of aging parents.
  • They don’t prioritize settling in one place or owning a house.
  • They prefer renting to live closer to where they work.

Available industry survey research has this to say about millennial homeowners:

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Buy a house now? The 4 questions to ask yourself

Homebuying is a personal decision that comes down to your budget, debts and financial goals. Here are questions an aspiring millennial homeowner — or any homebuyer — can answer before shopping for your first home:

      • Where do you want to live? Track average home prices in your target city and surrounding neighborhoods. And think about how long you plan to stay in one place — less than five years, and renting may be cheaper in the long run.
      • How much house can you afford? Knowing your financial situation — including your budget, credit score and debt-to-income ratio — can help you narrow down whether homeownership is a realistic goal. A mortgage affordability calculator can help you estimate a comfortable mortgage against your budget.
      • What kind of mortgage is right for you? If you can’t pay with cash, it’s helpful to know the types of mortgage loans available to find the best for your goals.
      • Which lender is best for you? Compare the best mortgage lenders on the market for your specific home and budget.

An advantage of buying into the real estate market early is that you’re less burdened by expensive monthly rent, helping you to climb the real estate ladder sooner.

For all homebuyers, it’s good to plan ahead and save early. Whether for a down payment or to fix up a fixer-upper, it takes time to build a nest egg. Compare the best high-yield savings accounts to take advantage of high APYs and grow your savings faster.

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