Homeownership for many represents the American Dream: security, family, and stability. However, the 2008 housing bubble burst managed to shake this dream—just as the earliest Millennials started making their way into adulthood. Despite this setback, many continue to aspire towards homeownership. In fact, in 2017 Millennials contributed over $514 billion to the housing market. Millennials are the largest group of US homebuyers. 

What are the factors that made homeownership a Millennial Dream? And what are the realities Gen-Y homebuyers are facing as they embark toward this new chapter in their lives?

Read on to find out!

Rent Is Too High

Rent prices continue to soar. Increasing rent has become a driving factor for homeownership, encouraging many Millennials to go out and buy. Chelsea, a 27-year-old newlywed from Buffalo, NY decided to purchase a home with her husband after a conversation with her father left her questioning her choice to rent. After constantly moving around due to bad landlords and rent increases, they’d had enough. Convinced that they were “throwing money away” by renting, they decided to look into buying a home.

This is not an uncommon situation. Why pay thousands of dollars in rent when you could be putting that money towards finding a house? Homeownership at least provides equity and something to call your own. However, getting started in the process can be prohibitively expensive, especially in this economy. Only 2 out of 5 Millennials are able to afford the recommended 20% towards a down payment. People are beginning to get more creative with saving up the cash. Borrowing money from family, buying houses under contract, opting to pay 3% and take on homeowners insurance, renting out a room or even moving to less expensive areas.

After taking a look at their finances, Chelsea and her husband were able to purchase their current home: a duplex on the edge of downtown Buffalo. Close enough to expose them to the creative culture of city life, without breaking the bank. To help get ahead on the mortgage, they rent out their two bedroom unit downstairs. That makes them both first-time homeowners and landlords.

As daunting as the process was, it was not a difficult decision for the couple. “I prefer to be a homeowner,” she says. “After all the experiences with bad landlords, it feels good to be in control.”

Nobody Is Moving

Nobody likes moving. But it seems the generation that hates moving the most is the Baby Boomers. In fact, although the largest group of homebuyers is Millennials, the largest group of homeowners is still the Boomers, with an average homeownership rate of 78%. The US real estate market is currently facing the worst home inventory deficiency in two decades. A realtor.com study attributes this to Boomers staying put, leaving Millennials without enough homes to go around.

Despite the popular notion that Millennials are trying to flood into cities, more and more of them are reaching an age where marriage and family are starting to become an attractive option. They are looking for single-family homes in suburban areas which, to their dismay, they find to be already occupied. In return, the Boomers who currently own those homes are reluctant to downsize, probably for the same reasons that Millennials are struggling to buy—increased prices on homes that fit their needs. This lack of movement in the market has consequences. Over 33 million properties (mostly urban condos and suburban single-family homes) remain off the market and unavailable to young people looking to purchase.

Millennials have proven to be very skeptical house hunters, particularly given the areas that they live. Often moving to larger cities to start their careers, young people are finding the housing market to be particularly tough. One study showed that 62% of Millennials are also in the market for a rental while looking to buy a home. Finding a home is not always a sure thing.

Student Loans Are Expensive

Apart from making Millennials miserable at a tune of 1.4 trillion dollars, student loans also prevent young people from going after their dreams. A poll done by the National Association of Realtors shows that 83% of Millennials cite student loan debt as a big factor deterring them from pursuing homeownership. Of the 41% of Millennials that are homeowners? Over a quarter cite student loans as a barrier to moving to a different home. With this amount of debt, it’s no wonder that committing to the purchase of a home feels like an impossibility. A

Madi, a 26-year-old homeowner, cited student loans as a factor that she considered before she and her husband purchased their home in Des Moines. “I ended up leaving graduate school with about $200,000 in student loan debt,” she said. “So it was definitely something we considered when we were about to get a mortgage.”

Student loans are a hefty burden to bear for the sake of educating yourself. But it may be a case where the bark is harsher than the bite. That’s exactly what happened in Madi’s case. Since student loans were her only debt, she was able to co-sign on the loan and they were able to purchase the home they currently live in.

What Next?

Although it might feel like the road to homeownership is long and trying, it is certainly not impossible. It’s true that absurd rents, the burden of student loans, and a slowly recovering housing market makes buying a home more challenging. However, many people are utilizing their creativity and their resources to make their dreams of homeownership come true. With some forward planning, organization, and a bit of luck, you too can tackle the challenge of owning your own home.

Curious about what options are out there to get you started? Head over to our homepage, and let Morty help you find the right mortgage for you!