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Millennial homeowners and homebuyers: Stats, trends — and who’s buying?

Millennials (Gen-Y) are among the homebuying majority – and reshaping the market.

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 33 in 2021 and 29 in 1980.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that millennials — the generation born between 1981 and 1996 — experienced a significant drop in the share of homebuyers in 2022, after leading all generations since 2014. Millennial homebuyers accounted for just 28% of the market in 2022 compared to 43% in 2021. Boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — have overtaken millennials in the top spot, accounting for 39% in 2022, up from only 29% in 2021.

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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Homeownership by generation

How many millennials own homes?

According to Finders Consumer Confidence Index younger generations like Gen Z and millennials are more likely to rent than own a home.
1. 50% of millennials are homeowners
2. A slightly higher proportion of Gen X own a home at 58%
3. Boomers have the highest homeownership rate, with 81% of those surveyed being homeowners and Gen Z accounting for the least with 38% owning a home.

Share of homebuyers by generation

1. Majority of homebuyers since 2014 were millennials.

2. Millennial homebuyers accounted for just 28% of the market in 2022 compared to 43% in 2021.

3. Boomers have overtaken millennials in the top spot, accounting for 39% in 2022, up from only 29% in 2021.

Millennials: Repeat vs first-time homebuyers

1. Only 58% of millennial homebuyers bought a house for the first time in 2022, down from 65% in 2021.

What is the average age of the first-time home buyer?

1. Today’s first-time home buyer is older than ever before with the median age of the first-time home buyer being 38 years old
2. Compared to 33 in 2021 and 29 in 1980

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.

NAR Director of Member and Consumer Survey Research Brandi Snowden says, “among Younger and Older Millennials, we see that the most difficult steps in the home buying process were finding the right property, understanding the home buying process, and saving for a downpayment”.

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

charts, graphs, changes over time, factors affecting millennials' ability to buy a house

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Can millennials buy a house?

How easy is it for millennials to save for a home?

1. In 2022 and 2023, NAR estimates that 24% of millennial homebuyers experienced challenges saving up for either a home or a down payment.

2. The Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances reveals that student loans are the largest debt for those under 44, with installment loans trailing closely behind.

Can millennials pay for their homes?

1. Based on a survey by Finder 36% of millennial homeowners struggle to pay their mortgages.

2. The average monthly mortgage payment for a millennial is $1,113.

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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