In recent years, the millennial generation has caught flack for ruining, well, everything. A quick Google search brings up a vast list of all the normalities this demographic has apparently killed. Marriage, department stores, and even diamonds make the list. Essentially, millennials are exhibiting a shift in priorities and overall perspectives. They overwhelmingly prefer to spend their money on experiences versus tangible items, and in many cases, are waiting longer to “settle down” in the traditional sense. While some critics deem this “hand-holding complex” as laziness or entitlement, there are deeper reasons why millennials are waiting longer to embark on significant life steps, like starting retirement funds and saving up to buy homes.
Why millennials are renting rather than buying.
The generation born between 1981 and 1996 was old enough to experience the second-hand effects of the 2008 housing crisis and economic crash; watching their parents and relatives foreclose and lose jobs altered their perceptions of money and investments. A 2017 Business Insider article explored how the 2008 crash continues to haunt an entire generation. The article cites findings from a recent Legg Mason survey which found that 82% of millennials indicated that their financial choices and attitudes are strongly influenced by the severe economic downturn they witnessed as teens and young adults. Interestingly, older generations feel less affected by the crash a decade later.
In addition to the wariness of investing so much of their savings into the type of investment that they saw crumble before their eyes in 2008, millennials also have more financial burdens to consider. Student loan debt has a crippling effect on this demographic. On average, today’s graduates rack up over $37,000 in loans; monthly loan repayments often dissuade recent graduates and young professionals from making additional financial commitments.
A third factor contributing to generational disinterest in home buying is location preference. Millennials prefer to live in urban environments where housing prices are inherently higher than suburban alternatives. Despite the recent downturn in housing prices across major U.S cities, densely populated hubs still come with higher price tags.
Will this trend change any time soon?
The tides are starting to turn. While there is no quick solution to solving student debt or urban home prices, millennials cautionary saving habits may move the needle toward home ownership. A recent Bloomberg piece indicates that home ownership among this age group may be on the rise; millennial homeownership rates jumped from 34.7 percent to 36 percent in the past year.
But savings and the payoff from conservative financial planning are not the only factors that can drive an upswing in ownership. Today’s home buyers now have more financial resources and vehicles available to them to make their purchasing dreams come true.
The cryptocurrency real estate market is growing at a fast clip. The value of purchasing homes via cryptocurrency extends far beyond a means for early crypto adopters to make use of their investments; instead, buying properties via cryptocurrency has the potential to empower homeowners, giving them more agency in the buying process and decreasing their fees.
Deedcoin–a cryptocurrency real estate platform–is one organization poised to help buyers who, in the past, have felt too financially unstable to make significant purchases. As anyone who has ever gone through the home buying process can attest, the fees do not start and stop with down payments and mortgage plans. Typically, buyers are also required to pay 6% commission fees to brokers; although 6% may seem insignificant now, when added to down payments and the first month’s mortgage, that extra fee is enough to keep potential homebuyers from closing. Deedcoin’s platform, which runs on the blockchain’s decentralized ledger, facilitates transactions through DEED coins. These altcoins tokenize real estate commissions–lowering the typical rates down to 1% to give home seekers more financial freedom.
Cryptocurrency is not the only rising technological trend reframing the homebuying process for first-time buyers; artificial intelligence implementation is also helping property seekers streamline their searches to find homes that align with their demands and financial constraints. HomeLuv.com is a newly-launched AI home shopping platform. The site’s machine-learning intelligence foundation allows users to search for homes based on individualized features. Having saved and waited to buy homes, first-time buyers do not want to settle on properties that do not align with their lifestyles. By infusing the search process with AI, HomeLuv can serve individuals increasingly targeted options.
The millennial generation is steeped in cautionary spending and investment habits. However, after years of not committing to properties, millennial buying trends are shifting. What will help spur more significant increases in purchasing is a continual commitment to developing technological solutions that empower individual buyers and offer more financial agency.