Millennials can’t afford real estate — destined to remain sad apartment dwellers

September 3, 2019

By John Aidan Byrne

The American Dream for millennials just turned a new corner: Thanks to soaring student debt and crushing financial liabilities, homeownership is not in view.

Despite a slight uptick lately, the homeownership rate among millennials remains the lowest compared with previous generations. Roughly 1 in 3 US millennials under 35 owned homes at the end of last year.

Many analysts say indicators point to US millennial homeownership declining, perhaps even heading for a dive if a recession strikes.

According to a new study by LendEDU, 26% of millennials who are not yet homeowners identify a lack of savings; 10% blame “overwhelming” student loan debt; 5% blame “overwhelming” credit card debt; 6% blame other debt; and 17% cite poor credit. Nearly a quarter cite low income.

“I would love to own a home but I face what many other millennials are facing — the cost of mortgages and homeownership is beyond our means right now,” Steven Olikara, founder and president of the nonpartisan advocacy group Millennial Action Project, told The Post.

“It is really tough,” added Olikara, a college graduate, single and in his late 20s, who lives in a rental. “I see too many of my friends who’ve had to put their dream on hold because of too much debt, or because they do not have enough income.”

With job gains holding US unemployment at a historically low 3.7% rate — and the economy growing despite some pullback — millennials should be in a sweet spot. But analysts say overwhelming debt and a dearth of well-paid jobs are hurting the demographic, made up of roughly 22- to 37-year-olds.

“I see this phenomenon in my practice on a nearly daily basis,” said Gary DeVicci, managing director of advisory services at CPI Companies in Voorhees, NJ. “Millennials are often forced to move back home to save money and/or to reduce debt, so they can get ahead with their financial lives, which means buying a home of their own — the cornerstone of the American dream.”

But their debt is escalating. According to the Northwestern Mutual 2018 Planning & Progress Study, the typical millennial had some $36,000 in personal debt last year, excluding home mortgages. Millennials nationwide had one of the largest jumps in credit card debt in the past 12 months, with each holding an average of $4,712 in card debt in the first quarter, according to Experian.

And student debt, at some $1.5 trillion-plus, continues to skyrocket.

The Millennial Action Project’s Olikara cited a need to “embrace further flexible versions of college and dramatically improve vocational and other job training programs.” He added, “The last recession, and the burden of student and other millennial debt, have shifted the conversation. The economic challenges faced by millennials is a problem for the entire nation — everyone benefits if millennials do well.”

Read this article on >

Rep. Sara Jacobs


Be a part of a network of lawmakers committed to governing effectively, passing more representative public policy, and increasing public trust in democracy.