Millennials continue to lag behind in home ownership rates

Meghan McCarty Carino Feb 23, 2021
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Millennials are held back from homeownership from economic setbacks like student loan debt and the Great Recession. Above, a house under contract in Washington, D.C., in November. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Millennials continue to lag behind in home ownership rates

Meghan McCarty Carino Feb 23, 2021
Heard on:
Millennials are held back from homeownership from economic setbacks like student loan debt and the Great Recession. Above, a house under contract in Washington, D.C., in November. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
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The latest Case-Shiller home price index shows home prices rose by 10.4% in December, the biggest jump in seven years. A new report from Apartment List shows millennials drove much of the pandemic housing boom in 2020, buying more properties than any other age group. But they still lag behind where other previous generations were at a similar age.

Millennials are now the largest generation. Those are people in prime career and family-building ages, said Rob Warnock, a researcher at Apartment List.

“Everything would tell us historically that now is when millennials should be buying a bunch of homes,” he said.

Low interest rates and demand for larger spaces helped drive millennial home-ownership up last year, but that generation is still 5 to 10 percentage points behind where Generation X and baby boomers were at the same age.

“There are these huge financial limitations that millennials struggle to overcome,” Warnock said.

Student loan debt, high housing prices and career setbacks from the Great Recession hurt millennials’ ability to accumulate wealth. And the pandemic has deepened inequality among millennials, said Christine Percheski, a sociologist at Northwestern.

“The millennials is our most racially and ethnically diverse cohort,” she said.

And Percheski said that means ethnic and racial disparities in wealth and employment that have widened during the pandemic are especially pronounced in that group.

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