The Millennial desire for homeownership
Our latest report seeks to understand what Millennials are willing to do to make homeownership possible.
Beatrice de Jong
5/24/2022 · 5 min read
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Like every generation, Millennials do things a little differently than their parent’s generation. This is the generation that gave us influencers, dating apps, and bottomless brunch; they’re getting married later (if at all), and they may or may not have kids. But there’s one life milestone that has stood the test of time, even for this open-minded generation: they definitely still want to become homeowners.
Millennials, now the largest population group in the US, are currently between the ages of 26 and 41 – historically, the age at which many have made the ceremonial transition to adulthood via homeownership. However, between the pandemic, inflation, and the wildest housing market in years, this generation hasn’t seen the most ideal conditions for purchasing their first home. And so we meet the Unmortgaged Millennials, or members of this generation who have never owned a home. Despite notoriously rejecting their parents’ version of “adulting,” Millennials still desperately want a place to call their own. And they’re not just casually manifesting. These Millennials would make serious sacrifices to be homeowners: most would give up TikTok and Instagram in order to own their dream home (73%), and even more (78%) would give up alcohol (so much for bottomless brunch).
What else would Millennials do to own a home, and why? Our latest report set out to understand the Unmortgaged Millennials’ desires, finances, struggles, and what they’re willing to do to make homeownership possible.
Millennials say homeownership is worth the sacrifice
Unmortgaged Millennials know it will take sacrifices to afford a home, and – besides TikTok and tequila – they’re ready to give up the trip to Tulum that everyone’s talking about to do so: 47% say they would delay vacations for five years if it meant they could buy a home, and 41% would even delay a wedding for five years.
And the list goes on: 44% would say goodbye to their morning coffee runs and eliminate coffee altogether, and 35% would miss out on their favorite shows and eliminate all TV. Now that’s dedication.
Not even a year off work will distract the Unmortgaged Millennial: 65% would advise a friend who has enough money for either a down payment or a year-long sabbatical to invest in a home. And while they’re at it, forget the destination wedding, or forget the wedding altogether: 70% would advise a friend who has enough money for either a down payment or a wedding to invest in the home.
“Adulting” drives the urgency for homeownership
As we emerge from a pandemic that forced many to hunker down – some in their parents’ basements – 52% say their urgency to own a home has increased in the past year. Nearly half of Unmortgaged Millennials (49%) call out “adulting” as a key driver of their urgency for homeownership.
Whether or not they’re ready to settle down just yet, these Unmortgaged Millennials are ready to take steps toward investing in a home, with 69% saying they’d prefer homeownership to renting, and 54% saying they have a high desire to own a home. Among respondents with a strong desire, most say this is driven by wanting to raise a family (54%), hope for better living conditions (51%), and – perhaps unsurprisingly – being tired of paying rent to a landlord (50%).
Affordability is the #1 obstacle
The financial stretch ultimately keeps Unmortgaged Millennials from realizing their dreams of homeownership. Rising home prices are the most commonly reported challenge to homeownership (45%), and compounded with low income (42%), nearly half of respondents aren’t sure they’ll ever be a homeowner (49%). However, they still rank a down payment as the number one most important financial milestone, even when compared to saving money for a new car (21%), travel (22%), and paying off student loans (29%).
Still, current savings levels among this group are typically far from what is needed for a down payment. Only 20% of respondents have saved enough for a down payment, and only 12% say they can actually afford to buy a home right now. 56% have less than $25,000 in total savings, and half say they’ll need at least $25,000 more to make a down payment where they live (51%).
Finding a dream home takes priority over finding a partner
Forget Hinge and Tinder, because Unmortgaged Millennials are home-search obsessed, and would rather swipe through interiors of homes than swipe right (or left…) on romantic prospects. Of those surveyed, two-thirds use real estate apps, and a majority browse homes online. In fact, Unmortgaged Millennials value their real estate apps ahead of dating apps, travel apps, and sports betting apps.
And speaking of romantic prospects, unpartnered and Unmortgaged Millennials see no issue in buying solo, as one-third say they’d buy a home on their own.
While many surveyed described their life stage in varying terms – raising a family (29%), early career professionals (25%), and world explorers (25%) – the overwhelming consensus (46%) from Unmortgaged Millennials is that they are just “trying to get [their] life together.” While it’s clear that this generation’s priorities have shifted, those that have not yet checked the “homeowner” box are eager to make the transition – whether it’s complicated or not – from Unmortgaged Millennial to First-time Homebuyer.
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Beatrice de Jong is the Consumer Trends Expert at Opendoor
Methodology: This sample of 1002 U.S. adults was surveyed between April 7, 2022 and April 10, 2022. All respondents are Millennials (aged between 25 to 40, as confirmed by consumer data) and report that they have never owned a home. DKC Analytics conducted and analyzed this survey with a sample procured using the Pollfish survey delivery platform, which delivers online surveys globally through mobile apps and the mobile web along with the desktop web. No post-stratification has been applied to the results.