Contrary to popular belief, millennials want to buy homes

Posted July 4

Millennials want to buy homes but can't for reasons such as affordability. (Deseret Photo)

The popular image of millennials is one of dedicated city lovers — a demographic disillusioned or unhappy with an earlier generation’s suburban living that isn’t about to give up city life any time soon.

But is that borne out by reality?

Business Insider predicts that the next housing boom will be sparked by millennials, with the demographic's focus on careers in metropolises only delaying the inevitable boost in home construction as they age and settle down with families.

Millennials = hardcore urbanites?

The first assumption to dismantle about those in their early 20s to late 30s is that they are living it up in cities. reports that this notion is rooted in those who can afford life in cities with high real estate prices. Only about one-third of millennials identify as urban, and only 13 percent of the demographic dwell in a downtown area.

“There’s mounting evidence that millennials’ love of cities was a passing fling that became a shotgun wedding thanks to the Great Recession,” wrote David Morris for Fortune.

But there is some truth to millennials not wanting their parents’ suburbs, with a taste for urban life shining through. U.S. News and World Report notes they’re looking for places with amenities such as “yoga classes, health food stores and walkable downtown areas” — places that are close to nature spots but not so far from cities that a long commute is needed.

“People want more urban perks,” said Alison Bernstein, founder and CEO of Suburban Jungle, to U.S. News. “They don’t want to be isolated. They don’t want to feel alone. They want to be part of a community.”

Homebuilders and the millennial draw

As explained in March, student debt takes a large share of the blame for millennials not entering the real estate market. At the same time, entry-level property makes up less than 20 percent of new construction, when before the recession that number was closer to 30 percent.

“To some degree, it’s a chicken-or-the-egg situation,” Denver Nicks wrote. “Are builders not catering to first-time homebuyers because the nation’s young adults aren’t likely to be purchasing? Or are young adults unlikely to be buying partly because there are relatively few homes that match their needs?” notes there may be a generational gap responsible for this divide — the average age of a Realtor is 57, who may have trouble connecting to a 20-something.

Possible solutions

Quartz noted that in addition to the real estate industry doing a better job of catering to millennial wants and needs, unconventional options are open as well. Microhousing is one solution for those who want a space of their own but don’t need much of it.

Co-living spaces, structured similar to college dorms, is another solution The New Yorker recently covered.

And wrote that renovation of older, forgotten suburbs whose population moved away may be a chance for millennials to create a space of their own, leaving a mark.

"There’s absolutely a huge phenomenon of millennials doing it themselves," said Adam Ducker, managing director of real estate consultancy RCLCO, to "They’re discovering neighborhoods that have these characteristics and truly fixing them themselves.”

Contact the reporter at; Or follow her on Twitter at @Sarahsonofander.


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