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Homeownership

Millennials ‘kill’ everything, but not the American dream of homeownership

(REAL ESTATE) Homeownership may come with anxieties, but Millennials aren’t giving up on it as part of the American dream. Here are the current sentiment studies.

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Is the American dream of owning a home still alive and well in 2019? Well, yes and no. The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Aspiring Home Buyers Profile survey revealed some surprising numbers.

NAR’s annual report uses information from its quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) surveys to take an in-depth look at the consumer preferences of Americans who don’t own a home, whether they pay rent or not. Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on everything from housing affordability to the American dream of homeownership to whether it’s a good time to purchase a home.

The 2019 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile found that while more than 90 percent of homeowners still believe that homeownership is part of the American dream, only about 75 percent of non-homeowners feel the same way. Why do nearly one-fourth of those non-homeowners think that way? The answer is simple: Affordability. Nearly half of non-homeowners in the third quarter of 2018 said the main reason they don’t currently own was they couldn’t afford it (up from 33 percent in Q2). Those blaming affordability for their non-homeownership dropped back to 43 percent in Q4.

The non-homeowners’ hesitation might be warranted. While no one can know exactly what will happen in the coming year, many forecasters predict home prices will rise again — at a minimum of 2 to 3 percent — in 2019.

Despite the financial obstacles ahead of them, a majority of non-homeowners remained optimistic last year. Millennials may not be buying diamonds or soap bars, and minimalism reigns supreme with the aging demographic, but homeownership remains part of the American dream, even if the dream is riddled with anxieties.

The number of them who still hoped to own a home in the future never dipped below 73 percent in 2018. Their main reasons they would buy? An improvement in their financial situation (28 to 31 percent) or a change in their living situation, e.g. starting a family or retiring (26 to 30 percent).

An interesting note: In the fourth quarter, the HOME survey added questions pertaining to friends and family moving in with the respondents in 2018. Nine percent of respondents reported an adult child moving in, with another 5 percent reporting another adult moving in during the past year. Nearly half of those respondents said it was planned to be a long-term or permanent move. However, the survey did not ask those respondents if affordability was a factor in this decision.

Staff Writer, Krystal Hagan holds a bachelor of journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives the full-time RV life just outside Austin, Texas, with her musician partner, three dogs, and a six-toed cat. In her free time, she binges TV shows, brandishes her otherwise useless pop-culture knowledge at trivia nights, and tries to become BFFs with every animal she meets.

Homeownership

Start up creates online platform to make building homes easier

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Atmos wants to help simplify the dream home building process by moving it online. Their platform will help you find builders, designers, and financing options.

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A start-up plans to bring together people, processes, and tools into one digital place for buyers to design and build their homes from start to finish. Co-founder and CEO of Atmos, Nicholas Donahue, grew up in a homebuilding family and always wondered what it would look like to use technology to rebuild the industry.

“Nearly everyone used to want to build a home; it was the American dream, but most people choose not to do it because of the complexity,” Donahue said, “While everything else has moved fully online, homebuilding is still the same in-person process. We are making the process simple enough that anyone can build the home of their dreams, modernizing and revitalizing the American dream.”

The way Atmos works is that they partner with local home builders that they claim to vet based on accreditation, reputation, proof (insurance + funds for construction loans), and pricing. Customers input their desired location and floor plan for the site on the platform. Atmos finds builders that best match the plan and coordinate the rest of the tasks to get the home built, including design, fixture packages, and financing. The company partners with local real estate agents to help sell a client’s existing home, or allows customers to use their own real estate agents if they prefer.

Atmos is participating in the California-based Y-Combinator accelerator, most known for launching companies like Airbnb, DoorDash and Instacart. The company has raised more than $2 million in VC seed round funding from Sam Altman of YC/ OpenAI, Adam Nash of Wealthfront, JLL Spark, and others.

According to Donahue, the rise in demand for housing in emerging cities coupled with low inventory makes building a more attractive option for buyers. He said “homeowners are converting from buying to building and when doing so are being forced to go online because of in-person restrictions. This has provided a huge opportunity for an online alternative to come into the space.”

Additionally, an increasing number of remote workers have come to envision their homes as combined office, schooling, and family spaces. In response, real estate agents report more requests for larger homes with outdoor space and dedicated offices, particularly for homes in the under $400k price range.

Atmos is currently focusing on Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte markets as they continue to refine their business model. Long-term, Donahue says the goal is to “redefine the way people live by enabling the next generation of homes and neighborhoods to exist.”

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Homeownership

FHFA extends rent moratoriums through August

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Don’t freak out about the FHFA extending the moratorium, while many in the pay chain are affected, here’s what it means for Real Estate.

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As millions of Americans lost their jobs at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the FHFA announced a temporary prohibition of evictions and foreclosures that was set to expire on June 30. After reevaluating the job market and the record low unemployment rate, the FHFA extended this moratorium through August 30.

However, never did the FHFA nor the federal government put a hold on the rent, utility bills, or car insurance. Instead, most peoples’ bills have become endless. It’s a full circle here, those who can’t pay their rent impact their landlords ability to pay rent, so on and so forth.

The FHFA moratorium extension allows Americans to attempt to catch up on their bills as their jobs open back up. That said, there will be a glut of rental inventory as thousands of residents have been laid off or furloughed and can’t possibly come up with several months’ worth of rent. The long term effects will ripple through the sector, from rent decreases in some areas, to vacancy levels plummeting in others.

That said, industry experts maintain that while the industry will slow due to the global pandemic, the housing sector will be revived toward the second half of the year. It is not expected to be at full steam within this calendar year, however.

NAR President Vince Malta recently commented on existing home sales, “Although the real estate industry faced some very challenging circumstances over the last several months, we’re seeing signs of improvement and growth, and I’m hopeful the worst is behind us.”

But landlords are in a different boat than the rest of the sector, and have a certain struggle ahead. Some refused to be flexible with renters, while others have sought ways to retain residents without having vacancies or having to invest in turning a unit. This moratorium helps many renters, but landlords, particularly private landlords (not multifamily) will be hard hit.

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Homeownership

4 million homeowners skip mortgage payments as forbearance requests slow

(REAL ESTATE) It is no surprise that mortgage payments are being skipped across the nation, but it’s not all a total loss…

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Over 4.1 million American homeowners are currently skipping their mortgage payments on a temporary basis as COVID-19 keeps the economy shut down, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

Meanwhile, forbearance requests have slowed – the MBA’s weekly survey indicates that 8.16 percent of total loans are now in forbearance plans, up from 7.91 percent the week prior, and while the share of loans in forbearance is rising, the trend is toward requests decreasing.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, said in a statement, “There has been a pronounced flattening in loans put into forbearance – despite April’s uniformly negative economic data, remarkably high unemployment, and it now being past May payment due dates.”

Congress passed the $2.22 trillion CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), under which homeowners holding a federally backed home loan may delay mortgage payments for up to a year, but politicians are quick to remind folks that the money is still due, and fees may still apply during the forbearance period.

This relief effort is the primary reason so many did not pay their mortgage this month. People are still unsure of whether or not they will be employed in the near future, and are managing their finances accordingly, particularly while lenders are still in the mood to negotiate. Economists believe that difficulties will be ongoing, and homeowners will continue to struggle as a whole.

While our economy hasn’t been hit this hard since the Great Depression, and unemployment numbers reveal widespread economic devastation, slivers of hope remain. Forbearance requests slowing isn’t the only housing hope – new home construction levels are down, but nowhere near at the same pace as other sectors harder hit.

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