The Millennials, Some Interesting Demographics

A lot has been written about the Millennial generation as related to housing.  A look at the facts finds data in variance with the conclusion that the emerging generation will not be buying houses.  However, they do appear to be at the lower bound of their historical purchasing history—possibly due to unnecessarily tight credit requirements coupled with difficult job markets.[1]

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Millennials have household formation rates significantly under that of the rest of the population, and  home ownership rates well below that of other groups.  They are now entering an age at which household formation and homeownership should be picking up.  In terms of the housing market place, millenials currently have a purchase rate roughly comparable to their proportion of the population, but they are at the lower historical bound of purchasing experience for that age cohort.  At this point a loosing of unnecessarily tight credit standards would  help them enter the housing market.

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Over an extended period of time the home buying patterns of people in the Millennial age group appear to have fluctuated—but not radically.  The tendency of the media to write off the Millennial generation as home buyers seems premature:  younger people have never bought houses to the degree that older people have.  As noted by Krainer and McCarthy, credit standards have been too tight.  Various surveys indicate a preference for home ownership by Millennials.  Clearly there are issues associated with college loans, the economy, job availability, and tight credit standards.  However, the data do not support the idea that in the long run Millennials will be permanent apartment renters.


[1]               John Krainer and Erin McCarthy have also noted that tight mortgage credit standards have been an obstacle to a pickup in housing demand:  “Housing Market Headwinds,” FRBSF Economic Letter, November 3, 2014.

Jed Smith, Managing Director, Quantitative Research

Jed Smith is Managing Director, Quantitative Research with the National Association of Realtors®. He has worked on real estate issues for the past 20 years, providing input on a variety of housing, commercial real estate, tax, and planning issues. Recently he has been involved in several international studies.

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