U.S. Homeownership Seen Drawing Strength from Millennials


Weighed down by issues on affordability, the rate of home ownership in the U.S. has been on the decline in recent years. However, there are strong indications that millennials—Americans born from the early 1980s to year 2000—can drive homeownership rate toward the nearly 70% peak the U.S. had in 2005. In the 2013 first quarter, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated home ownership in the nation at 64.8%, the lowest level in 19 years. In Florida, the percentage is slightly better at 66.9%.

Some housing analysts and economists believe that a resolution is in sight on the current financial woes, mainly brought about by onerous student loans, of the millennial generation. They believe that these Americans numbering about 85 million are poised to gain greater access to housing, boosted by their higher levels of education and a recovering labor market.

Educational advantage

U.S. Homeownership Seen Drawing Strength from Millennials

Millennial degree-holders, in particular, do enjoy the upper hand. The job seekers having a college education are in a better position to benefit from the improving labor market. And their numbers are increasing.

According to one research, a record 33% of Americans aged 25–29 had earned at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012. This percentage compares with 17% in 1971. Additionally, at least 63% had earned some units in college, another peak for this millennial age group.

These encouraging indicators are further bolstered by positive signs in the labor front. The National Association of Colleges and Employers disclosed that companies are planning to hire from class of 2014 graduates an additional 8.6% over their hires from graduates of the prior school year. Over half of these employers are eying graduates with degrees in computer sciences, engineering, accounting and business.

Rosy labor projections

According to projections of the U.S. Labor Department, there will be a 12.1% expansion in employment in jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree by 2022. For positions that need a master’s degree, the department forecasts demand to rise by 18.4%. A 7.9% growth is seen for occupations that require a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Richard Fry, a senior economist at the Washington-based Pew Research Center, acknowledged that millennials remain currently hampered by very difficult economic circumstances which could be traced back to the Great Recession and the slow U.S. economic recovery. However, Fry noted that a very strong tailwind is behind this generation.

He pointed out that the millennials are better educated than any of the generations before them. The economist expects that the millennials will sooner or later earn the dividends from their college degrees that would eventually turn them into homeowners.

Easing credit terms

Recent signs of a more hospitable climate for home loan borrowers provide another tailwind for more millennials soon engaging the housing market. One surfaced just May 2014 from the Federal Housing Finance Agency which oversees government-backed mortgage companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The agency announced plans to stimulate lending by cutting the risk to banks of having to buy back loans that end in default, a tack which should likewise benefit other aspiring home buyers besides millennials.

Another recent impetus came from Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. housing lender. In April, the bank announced that it is cutting its minimum credit score for borrowers of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-backed loans to 620 from 660.