Millennials are known for a lot of things. We generally love Disney movies. We can craft a tweet like nobody’s business. We’re the first people our family members turn to whenever there’s a problem with the computer.
It’s not untrue that some of us are obsessed with where to get the best latte. But as we’ve gotten into the workforce and started to earn a real living, our goals and aspirations are much broader. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in November 2018, millennials passed Generation X, and they have the largest share of mortgage originations by dollar volume. They had already passed Generation X in terms of overall count for loans originated as of January 2017. Since then, the gap has only continued to increase. By the end of last year, millennials were responsible for 45% of new mortgages, while 36% came from Generation X and 17% were accounted for by Baby Boomers.
We thought we would take a look at some trends in the millennial market and speak to a few millennials about why they decided to buy a home and their decision-making process on where to look and what to look for.
Millennial Housing Trends
When it comes to looking for homes, millennials are taking the whole financing process extremely seriously. For starters, the homes tend to be more affordable than those desired by older age groups.
The National Association of REALTORS® maintains a housing affordability index. It’s a bit detailed to explain the scale, but essentially homes with a score near or above one are considered more affordable than those with comparably lower scores.
The 10 most popular metros among millennials have an average affordability score of 0.96. Among the 25 to 34 age group, homeowners weren’t far away, picking markets where the average affordability score was 0.94. This is compared to the national average for affordability being 0.8.
The same report also notes that millennials tend to make lower down payments. While this does mean taking on more mortgage debt, it also means they’re not sacrificing other worthy financial goals in order to make a 20% down payment when it may not be necessary.
A 21st-Century Perspective
You can analyze data all you want, but what is it that millennials are actually looking for in terms of the housing and what are the primary considerations taken into account during the process?
We talked to several millennials about various aspects of the process.
What Pushed You to Buy?
People buy homes for many reasons and the group we talked to had several motivating factors.
Brita Long and her husband have a preference for long-term stability in their living situation.
“My husband has been with his current job for about three years. Their office is in Alpharetta, GA,” she said. “When we were still renting in Duluth, GA, he had a long and frustrating commute. Finally, we decided to buy a house in order to shorten his commute. While we could have found another place to rent, we were also tired of moving and wanted something long-term.”
When Nichole Seguin decided not to look for another roommate after her friend moved up north, she found the option of buying a house to be very persuasive.
“It ended up being so much cheaper to buy a house than to move into an apartment,” she said. “Plus, I had the added bonus of building equity and staying put in a place I really liked.”
Jessica Bryant, who lives outside Detroit, chose to start shopping based on a number of financial and practical considerations.
“Renting has never appealed to me – buying a home for me would mean no landlords, no terrible roommates and a place to call my own to build memories and equity in,” Bryant said. “As many millennials do, after college I moved back home with my parents for as long as I could and have saved up a nest egg. Having grown up through the housing market crisis and seeing the toll it took on family, friends and the community, taking advantage of the opportunity I have now – to buy when rates are still (near) historically low and housing values are steadily increasing (right now) seems like the best possible choice I can make for the future of myself and loved ones.”
Where Are Millennials Buying?
As would be the case with many people, the millennials we talked to are primarily concerned with finding a place this not too far from their work. This was the most common concern, but being close to family came up quite a bit as well.
Rachel Gawel purchased a home with her boyfriend in Berkley, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
“We knew we wanted to be in the suburbs northwest of Detroit,” she said. “We work in opposite directions so areas like Berkley, Royal Oak and Ferndale were a middle ground for us.”
While work and family led the way in determining where someone lived, for at least one millennial who worked remotely, it’s about proximity to their favorite coffee shop.
“This is going to sound really stupid but one of my top requirements for my home is proximity to a Dunkin Donuts,” said Chicago area resident John Frigo. “I’m a big coffee drinker and always start my day out with coffee and it’s surprisingly inconvenient having to drive across town to get my morning coffee.”
Bryant has a specific area in mind that cuts her commute to work in half.
“On seemingly every block, it’s a mixture of homes ranging from 100K – 400K,” she said. “I will be looking for a starter home at the low end of that range, but I think it tells me that it’s a desirable area with opportunity for my home to appreciate in value. Moving here will cut my commute to work in half, is close to two local freeways, close to family and friends I have in the area, it’s along the waterfront and near a particularly popular stretch of shops and restaurants that I haven’t had much opportunity to explore yet. It seems to be a Goldilocks area for me, but I am keeping my eyes open to houses in the surrounding areas as well.”
What’s on the Home Wish List of Millennials?
Most people who are getting their first home are getting a starter home, so it’s not always possible to get everything you want at once.
Long had a few practical considerations and then some that were just about freedom.
“The number of bedrooms and bathrooms give us space to have a baby one day,” she said. “My husband is a big car guy, so he insisted on a two-car garage. I’ve always wanted my own garden, hence the desire for a sunny yard. We had an HOA while we were renting, and we didn’t like the restrictions. We knew we wanted to avoid buying a house in an HOA. We painted our front door, our shutters, and the trim hot pink, something we probably couldn’t do with an HOA!”
That hot pink probably really pops. It’s kind of fun to think about!
In addition to the fact that her house is next to a huge parking downtown area, Seguin got most of what was on her wish list.
“I definitely needed a garage, a basement (finished preferably), a nice kitchen and two bathrooms,” she said. “I have a big extended family and they often come over to my house to gather. Having enough space is crucial for everyone to fit. I would’ve loved a larger main bathroom and an island in my kitchen, but you can’t win ‘em all.”
While still looking for the ideal home, Bryant is balancing what she wants with a realistic viewpoint. She wants a three-bedroom house that’s a minimum of 1,000 square feet.
“I would like to have a space that is open enough to entertain, both indoors and out. A dining space is also important to me and it never occurred to me how common it is in smaller homes to not really have one,” she said. “I would love a bay window, some dormer windows and a place that is bright and has some character, but I also remind myself that a home is what you make it and I can add my own personal touches. An attached garage and two-car drive is a luxury I think will have to wait for in my second home.”
Do these stories have you inspired to get a home of your own? You can apply online through Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans®. You can also contact one of our Home Loan Experts at (800) 785-4788. Any questions? Let us know in the comments below!
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