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Is That A Millennial In Your Basement?

Probably not!  According to a new study by Bank of America we have underestimated the money smarts of millennials.  

Millennials held the highest share of home buying activity out of all other generations for the fifth consecutive year, according to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study from the National Association of Realtors

Years ago, there was ongoing debate about the motivations of millenenials  —especially about their buying power and their supposed lack of interest or desire to own a home.   I would think after 5 years of showing their buying muscle these myths have been put to rest.  Probably the largest obstacle to a millennial purchasing a home is the lack of inventory and hence the upward trend in prices.

What I have noticed is that millennials are more likely to have a spotty job history (lack of jobs), be underemployed after a college degree (lack of good jobs),  independent contractors, entrepreneurs, freelancers  or telecommuters lacking a pension plan, healthcare benefits and the job security afforded to  previous generations.  Millennnials, however, are the life force of the “gig economy”.  If you are not familiar with the term gig economy, think Uber, Task Rabbit, Airbnb—companies who use free lancers and independent contractors rather than traditional employees to fill their ranks.  Intuit estimated that 43 percent of the workforce could be engaged in gig pursuits by 2020.  

 

Historcially, these types of “untraditional” employment and the methods of payment that often accompany them, are a challenge for underwriters charged with providing mortgage commitments for these buyers.  Generally, lenders are looking for two years of steady employment with predictable and consistent income.   

 

It sounds like that may be changing with the news that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two of the largest sources of mortgage money, are working on making home purchasing easier for gig economy participants.  This potential massive change to lending guidelines could dramatically improve access to credit for many buyers, many of whom make a good living but don’t qualify under the current conventional  guidelines. 

 

It makes sense that after 10 years of repaying student loans and waiting to marry until the ages of 29.5 for men and 27.5 for women (according to U.S. Census data) that owning your own home would be a logical next step—although maybe not the rural homes that you or your parents longed for in previous decades—these younger buyers are more likely to seek homes or condos in more urban areas with easy access to good restaurants, bars, coffee shops, quality shopping, and entertainment venues.

Buying a home with less than 10% down, at these low-interest rates, especially when  factoring in the tax advantages, also makes home ownership much more affordable.  Whether you yearn for the peace and quiet of a small rural town in eastern CT or the vibrancy and pace of a downtown,  you can still buy affordably with reasonable employment, a good agent to represent you, and a good lender with a strong track record of getting it done, even if you are income-challenged.

One other thing I have noticed about millennial buyers:  they are enthusiastic, resourceful, hopeful, efficient, well-informed, grateful, and fun!  And I hope they vote.