Turnaround: Millennials driving housing momentum?

Housing optimism boosted by millennial confidence

Millennials are now the key driver behind housing confidence, which is quite the anomaly given millennials’ hesitance toward the housing market over the past year. 

According to the latest Zillow Housing Confidence Index, the headline U.S. ZHCI increased to 64.2 over the summer, up from 63.7 in January, and housing confidence increased among residents in 11 of the 20 major metro areas surveyed.

“It’s heartening to see younger renters express so much confidence in their ability to buy a home in coming years, because today’s renters by necessity are tomorrow’s buyers,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

“Cynics might argue that these results represent no more than youthful exuberance, or perhaps some naiveté, but that’s missing the point. We need this generation to be confident and wanting to buy, regardless of the difficulties they face,” Humphries said.

And this generation does faces difficulties, Humphries explained, including saving for a down payment in the face of high rent and high student debt burdens, uncertain job prospects among younger workers and limited entry-level home inventory.

This is all a dramatic change from the picture of millenials as roadblocks to the housing recovery that usually fill news headlines.

Millennials witnessed the struggles their parents suffered from the housing crisis, and have piled on their own burden of student debt.

A recent report from The Demand Institute found that millennials are finally moving out of their parents’ homes, but rather than buying their own homes, they are choosing to rent.

This is a step closer toward homeownership, and according to Jeremy Burbank, a vice president at The Demand Institute, "Many millennials are open to alternative approaches to housing finance, including single-family rentals and rent/own hybrid contracts such as lease-to-own."

News surrounding millennials has become more positive over the past several months, with reports ranging from how they are better at paying their mortgage to how they will one day jump into the housing market.

Almost two-thirds, 65%, of millennials said they agreed with the statement that owning a home is necessary to living the “good life” and is central to the American dream. This compares to 56% of generation X and 55% of baby boomers.

Roughly 46% of millennials said they agreed with the statement that owning a home is necessary to be a respected member of society, compared to 38% of generation X and 30% of baby boomers.

“Although strong aspirations are no substitute for financial capacity or creditworthiness on a mortgage loan application, this feedback from millennial renters is significant because it confirms that they bear relatively few psychological scars from the housing bust, and because the attitudes of this generation will drive housing trends in the decades to come,” said Pulsenomics Founder Terry Loebs.

“Regarding the outlook of renters across all generations, in 14 of the 20 major metro areas in which we conduct our research, a majority of renter households don’t believe that right now is a good time to buy a home. However, a larger, two-thirds majority of these 3,764 renter households said that owning a home someday is a specific goal that they are determined to reach, or something that they think about a lot,” Loebs added. 

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3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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