Millennials, a generation often bemoaned for their comparatively nomadic tendencies as far as housing is concerned, looked for a while to be settling down in a more traditional sense. Now, in the wake of a pandemic and talk of a housing bubble, nearly two-thirds of those who were formerly interested in homeownership are changing their minds.
According to a Legal & General study, nearly half (47%) of millennials reported that COVID “negatively affected” their home-buying plans, with a whopping 61% of millennials who had saved for a down payment deciding to cancel or postpone the process.
The study also shows that 12% of millennials who were interested in homeownership “completely abandoned their home owning plans,” having been entirely disheartened by things like home scarcity, atrociously high bidding wars, and rapidly increasing cost of living in urban spaces.
That last criterion was also a damaging factor for many. Legal & General quotes millennial participants, one of whom laments being “priced out of my community, my county, to make way for the rich and for overpaid tech workers who are running us out of town and out of the state.”
Others referenced things like heavily politicized policies that “[drove] up the cost of living,” debts in a post-COVID relief society, wage stagnation, and the general dissonance of enjoyable activities and locations being almost entirely inaccessible to middle-class workers who cannot afford to live in the city.
But Legal & General points out that COVID-19 resulted in “aggravating existing housing trends, rather than generating a new pattern of trends”, signifying something many already knew – that millennials are reluctant to purchase what feels like a permanent investment in a world framed by extreme precarity.
“Our generation has had many setbacks to home ownership between the stock market crash and the pandemic, student loan crisis, the cost of living going up much faster than
the rate of salary increases…” says one participant in Legal & General’s study. “…it has been extremely difficult to even be in a position to save money.”
With almost 70% of millennials admitting that COVID and other related factors changed the way that they think about their future (specifically regarding where they might want to live) it seems like this generation is, once again, experiencing a profound setback to the plan espoused as the norm by prior generations.
However, the seeming exodus from densely populated areas to smaller, more suburban areas (seen toward the beginning of the pandemic) along with some pockets of resistance to wage stagnation in the last year does inspire some hope for a paradigm shift.
As the world reckons with the devastating effects of the pandemic and the rebuilding to follow, it is very possible that millennials will once again find their footing and once again plan on homeownership.