Millennials Want Houses, Just Like Everybody Else

The proportion of homeownership among young adults has fallen from a third to a quarter over the past half-century. But the idea that today’s millennials are allergic to deeds and mortgages is a myth, says a report based on a survey of more than 1,000 Americans aged 18-29 by the Demand Institute, a nonprofit jointly operated by the Conference Board and Nielsen.

“Like most myths, there is some truth here—but only some,” says the report’s introduction. The true part is that millennials are financially squeezed because of “graduating into a weak job market with growing student loan debt,” Jeremy Burbank, a Demand Institute vice president, said in a statement. The false part, the report says, is that millennials don’t want to own their homes.

“Attitudinally, they seem very much in line with what we see with older adults,” Louise Keely, president of the Demand Institute, tells me in a pre-release interview. “The will is there, but when they’re going to achieve it—and how—is the biggest open question.”

Sixty percent of those surveyed said they would eventually own a home and 24 percent said they already do. Only 16 percent said they won’t own a home. Three-quarters believe homeownership is an important long-term goal, and 73 percent believe it’s an excellent investment. “Based on stated aspirations, there is no indication that this generation will be any less likely than previous generations to own their homes,” the report says.

Of the three-quarters who said they planned to move in the next five years, 71 percent said they were doing so for a better home or apartment, 59 percent for more privacy or space, 50 percent to establish their own households, and 48 percent to own, not rent. (Some cited multiple reasons.)

Although marriage rates have been falling, single millennials still think they’ll get hitched. While only 30 percent of those surveyed said they were married, 64 percent said they expected to be married in five years. And while only 36 percent of those surveyed had children, 55 percent expected to have children in five years.

Student loan debt is associated with lower homeownership rates. Among college grads aged 30-34, 67 percent of those with no student loan debt own homes, vs. only 51 percent of those carrying student loan debt.

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