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USA Real Estate Blog

Generational differences sway housing markets

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NEW YORK – March 25, 2019 – Different age demographics are having a significant impact on reshaping housing. Millennials – who’ve faced delays into homeownership from student debt and high prices – are finally entering homeownership and increasingly forgoing the starter homes in favor of more expensive properties. Baby boomers, on the other hand, are showing an unwillingness to downsize in their retirement years and are holding on to larger houses well into their empty nest days.

“Many of the real estate industry’s basic assumptions seem increasingly outdated,” notes a study by Porch.com, a home remodeling resource.

For one, downpayments are shrinking. Most millennials and nearly half of Gen Xers are putting down either no money or less than 10 percent when buying their homes, according to Porch.com’s analysis. Consumers have traditionally been advised to put down 20 percent on a home purchase, but the data is showing that this is usually not the case among younger households. Many buyers are using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans to allow them to buy homes with as little as 3.5 percent down.

But the number of individuals buying homes with smaller downpayments can be concerning, the study notes. A considerable portion of Americans own property that is worth several times their annual household incomes, “leaving them potentially vulnerable to financial calamity,” the study notes.

However, the Porch.com study also finds a pattern of responsible borrowing and repayment. Many individuals are choosing modestly priced homes over mansions.

“Millennials seem to be entering the housing market on their own terms, with relatively high incomes to support their investments,” the study notes.

Buyers from ages 35 to 44 are spending the most on their homes, followed by the 45-to-64 age group, according to the study. “Perhaps these figures reflect the needs of middle-aged parents,” the study notes. “Children need bedrooms, and bigger homes equate to larger prices.”

Those in the 35-to-44 and 45-to-64 age brackets had median home values well above $200,000, and about 15 percent of each group owned homes worth $500,000 or more.

Source: “King of the Castle: Characteristics of American Homeowners,” Porch.com (2019)

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