It’s a fact: Millennials are all grown up. At 73 million strong, the oft-maligned generation now outnumbers baby boomers, comprising the largest population group in the country. And they’re coming of age financially too—ready to make their foray into real estate as the biggest segment of homebuyers. But more than other generations, millennials are particularly likely to be impacted by certain financial factors that make owning a home more challenging.
Let’s take a look at the unique challenges millennials face on their journey to owning a home.
1. Student Debt
Most millennials were raised believing a college degree is the new high school diploma. If you don’t have one, you can’t compete in today’s job market. So to say that student-debt-woes are ubiquitous would be an understatement. A staggering forty-five percent of millennials have outstanding student loans, and it costs them, on average, nearly $400 per month, crippling budgets and making saving for a home or making mortgage payments more out of reach than ever.
2. Stifled Credit
On top of the obvious ongoing financial impact of interest-bearing student loans, noted above, millennials’ also struggle to build strong credit as a down-stream effect of college debt—a requirement for securing a traditional mortgage. Millennial credit is so bad, 43% have what’s known as “subprime” credit, with scores below 600. But debt isn’t the only contributor to low credit scores. Besides this younger generation having less time to build strong credit than other home-buying generations, like Gen Xers and Boomers, they also have less knowledge about financial health—69% think they have a high level of financial knowledge, yet only 8% actually do—and less overall credit card usage, potentially born out of hesitancy to go into debt following the economic downfall of the oughts.
3. Bad Economics
Slow wage growth isn’t new news, but it is worth repeating. Compared to previous generations, millennials simply don’t have the same buying power. To start, it’s harder to save: Median rents have increased 72% since the 1960s, making it tougher than ever to cobble together a down payment for a home. And when it comes time to purchase, median home prices have risen 121%, compared to just 29% growth in household income, proving the dollar really, truly doesn’t go as far as it used to.
4. Slow Career Starts
Entering the workforce in the wake of the Great Recession, millennials have been fighting an uphill battle due to wage stagnation and job scarcity. Those born in the 1980s have been hardest hit—and the slowest to recover, with wealth levels 34% below where they would’ve been if the financial crisis hadn’t occurred in 2008.
5. Urban Preference
The lure of bright lights and big cities is not lost on Millennials. Fact is, 88% live in metropolitan areas, where finding a home is uber-competitive, housing supply is inelastic and where the cost of homes significantly outpaces the national average.
What’s a millennial to do?
The bad news isn’t the end of the story for financially-challenged millennials; there’s good news, too. The old way of buying a home is no longer the only option. In an industry that’s been slow to change, the way people think about real estate financing is finally evolving, and new companies are offering expanded choices to buyers. One innovative financing option is co-investing. Instead of taking out a mortgage from a bank and taking on more debt, buyers work with a partnering company to purchase a home. Co-investors share the equity in your property, treating it as an investment, and in exchange, offer significantly discounted monthly payments.
Plus, with many co-investing models, owners get the option to cash out some of their equity if they need it or buy more equity whenever they want. Most importantly, with home co-investing, the owner gets full control of the property, with their name alone on the title. The model offers control, equity, and ownership—combined with lower payments and more financial flexibility. Now that’s something different.