Debunking Millennial Homeownership Myths

Team Simplist
Aug 13, 2021

Millennials have been scrutinized and blamed for a variety of economic ills. Find out why their story is far different than you’ve been led to believe.

For some reason, millennials are frequently referenced in the media as if they are just starting out in their professional and home buying lives. However, born between 1981 and 1996, the youngest millennials are actually in their mid-twenties and the oldest are now turning 40. As the largest demographic cohort since the Baby Boomers, millennials have undoubtedly had an outsized influence on culture and the economy—one that has spawned a variety of myths and misconceptions. (And while we’re here, no, millennials are not “killing” everything they touch).

We decided it was time to examine some of the false perceptions of millennials—now the largest cohort of home buyers in the U.S.—to better understand and contextualize them within today’s real estate market. Find out how they differ from previous generations and how they’re reshaping the idea of homeownership:

Myth #1: Millennials are waiting for marriage to buy a home.

For the most part, millennials are more educated than prior generations—suggesting that, while they are buying homes later, it’s probably because they put more time into education and career-building up front and are now ready to buy. This is one of the places where we see a divergence between older and younger millennials. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2020 Generational Trends Report, older millennials have the highest percentage of married couples buying homes (67 percent), while younger millennials have the largest share of unmarried couples buying (21 percent).

In addition, single home buying is on the rise across all demographic groups—especially among single women, who make up the largest buyer group after married couples. In fact, per the aforementioned NAR report, younger millennials represent a significant chunk of single buyers at 25 percent.

Myth #2: Millennials aren’t buying homes because of avocado toast.

This forms part of the broader narrative about millennials: that they are financially irresponsible and over-indulge on discretionary spending rather than saving up for home buying and ownership. However, according to a study commissioned by Dave Ramsey’s Ramsey Solutions, millennials actually tend to have the same level of financial literacy—including an understanding of how much they need to retire and other markers of fiscal knowledge—as previous generations.

Much of the delay in homeownership can probably be attributed to the 2008 financial crisis, which delayed career advancement and wealth-building opportunities for many in this cohort. In addition, millennials are far more likely to have student loan debt than previous generations. This combination of factors has undoubtedly made it harder for this generation to save up for down payments, so it should really come as no surprise that this has delayed homeownership for many.

Myth #3: Millennials want the same type of home as older homeowners.

According to reporting by both Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal, millennials are looking for significantly different home styles than their parents. Sprawling McMansions and ornate fixtures and finishes languish on the market, while millennial buyers seek out clean lines, open floor plans, and smaller, more organized spaces.

This comes at a time when the Boomers who built these large homes—especially in Sunbelt states— are looking to downsize and get out from under the expense and upkeep requirements of oversized properties. This can create a glut of luxury properties selling far under value, as well as increased demand for smaller, more manageable homes from these two huge cohorts.

Myth #4: Millennials don’t value security.

Because they tend to eschew traditional career paths and may take longer to establish themselves in a career, many believe that millennials don’t value the security of traditional employment. In reality, however, many simply value different things -- paid time off, health care, and the ability to work remotely. In their eyes, these provide the work-life balance and value-added benefits that a previous generation found in 401(k)s and corporate culture.

This emphasis on health, wellness, and balance informs the decision to buy a home for many millennials. They tend to be more willing to compromise on price and condition than on quality of the neighborhood and schools and distance from friends and family. In addition, despite their youth, 20 percent of millennials believe that they have found their forever home already -- suggesting that they are indeed finding security in their home.

Myth #5: Millennials have a poor work ethic.

Millennials have tended to get a bit of a bad rap when it comes to their work ethic, with many older colleagues dismissing them as lazy and/ or entitled. However, a team of researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit found that, when examining traditional markers of work ethic such as hours worked, no significant generational differences emerged. The study’s authors suggested that human resource departments, which have long discussed ways to motivate and manage millennials, need not engage in handwringing about work ethic interventions for this group. Phew.

As homeowners, millennials have also been ridiculed for their lack of DIY knowledge, especially in comparison to older homeowners. However, much of the ability to adeptly make repairs comes from experience—it makes sense that those who have owned their homes for decades would have more expertise in this area. In addition, due to the emergence of the gig economy, millennials may simply have more affordable home repair and improvement options to choose from, meaning that they are able to outsource more of this work.

Myth #6: Millennials want to do everything online.

Millennials were once poised to be real estate industry disruptors. The assumption was that they would want to have a hands-off real estate process focused on online platforms and mobile applications. And, while they certainly value a seamless online experience, millennials do employ the real estate professional services just as much as other demographic groups.

The good news is, whether you’re 19 or 99, Simplist has made it easy for you to carve out your own unique path to homeownership. You can complete your application using our intuitive online platform, and lean on one of our trusted mortgage experts for support (or both!).

With a variety of financing options, and a convenient online application process, Simplist has the right tools for a painless mortgage process. Wherever you are in your home finance journey, we’re confident you’ll find your solution with us.

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