Young Homebuyers Lack Funds, Not Interest
By Paul Bubny via GlobeSt.com
Is a lack of interest all that’s standing between millennials and home ownership? A survey from LendingTree says no, while a recent report from locally based Zillow suggests a contributing factor: a lack of product in the starter-home price range that would be a logical fit for would-be homeowners in their 20s and 30s.
Zillow says supply of lower-priced for-sale housing is growing more slowly than high-priced homes in most parts of the US. Lower-priced inventory increased year-over-year in 68.3% of the 353 metro areas analyzed by Zillow, compared to increases of top-tier homes in 82.2% of these metro areas. That’s the case even as the inventory of for-sale housing generally was up 15.8% Y-O-Y as of October.
“Depending on their finances, it’s likely that individual buyers in the same market might be having completely different home buying experiences,” says Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. “Even as conditions improve for buyers overall, it remains a tough row to hoe for first-time buyers and lower-income buyers, especially compared to their more well-off contemporaries.”
Humphries says Zillow expects “more demand to come from the lower end of the market in coming years as millennials overtake Generation X as the largest home-buying demographic. As this happens, builders will be forced to build for these more entry-level buyers, and inventory at the bottom tier should improve, however slowly.”
And, if Charlotte, NC-based LendingTree’s survey of 1,009 nationally representatives millennials accurately represents the broader populace, the demand will be there in the future among younger would-be homebuyers. LendingTree found that only 4.4% of non-homeowner millennials said they were not interested in ever owning a home.
The question is whether they’ll be able to afford that first home, though. More than two-thirds of respondents said they’d need to earn higher incomes before buying a home, while factors such as choice of neighborhood, paying off student loans and other priorities coming ahead of homebuying also came up frequently in the survey responses.
However, financial wherewithal is not the only obstacle. LendingTree says a lack of financial awareness among millennials is holding back many of them from participating in the housing market.
For example, 21.2% of millennials in the LendingTree survey said they didn’t know their current credit scores, and another 11.0% said they have never even checked the scores. Furthermore, 44.8% of millennials have less than $5,000 in savings, thereby falling far short of the guidelines that call for having at least three to six months of living expenses on hand. Although tight cash flows may explain limited savings, 9.5% of millennials in LendingTree’s survey said they do not have or maintain a savings account.