Americans Are Moving Further Away To Afford Homes

Americans are moving further away from their original homes in order to find properties that are more affordable, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Real Estate

How the Real Estate Landscape Will Change in 2020

A widely anticipated industry report, entitled Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020, was just released by the Urban Land Institute and Pwc. According to the report, while real estate economists’ views on economic growth in the US are moderate, the real estate market should remain steady through 2021. The conclusions of the report are based on a survey conducted in August of 41 economists and analysts at 32 leading real estate organizations, who, despite warning signs of an impending recession and an escalation of the U.S.-China trade war, were generally optimistic about the future of real estate.

That being said, the report stresses the importance of adaptability to change and discipline as necessary factors for the industry to be able to remain strong in the face of a possible economic downturn and potential decreases in real estate demand over the next few years. Although blame for the last major recession was placed in part on the real estate industry for reckless lending practices and fraudulent activity, the report suggests that a future recession wouldn’t be the fault of the real estate industry. Over the past ten years the property sector has become disciplined, the report says, and any warning signs about an economic dip relate to factors that the real estate industry does not control.

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According to the report, a dynamic perspective on real estate and a rethinking of growth strategies are necessary for the real estate industry to thrive, and real estate prospects are highest in the cities of Austin, Raleigh, Nashville, and Boston. As housing needs for Millennials and Baby Boomers continue to change, multifamily and single-family housing will be in increased demand, and office spaces, hotels, and retail locations are likely to see a decline.

The report also observes the effects of the housing affordability crisis, which has the most impact in cities where the cost of living is high, including Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose. Affordability is a problem not only for low-income households, but for the middle class as well, a section of the population which is rapidly shrinking as greater numbers of people fall into economic uncertainty. The effects of this crisis mean that multi-family households and co-habitation arrangements are likely to increase in popularity, changing the market somewhat.

Additionally, the report talks about the effects of climate change on real estate, and specifically points to the impact of extreme heat in urban areas. Rises in temperatures mean that cooling apartment buildings will become more expensive, and the threat of wildfires, droughts, and air pollution pose economic problems. Climate change is not the only cause of rises in extreme heat, the report claims, as increased urban development also contributes to the problem. For handling the problem, the report recommends the use of light-colored building materials and smart use of direct cooling from shade.

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As a result of difficulties with affordability, co-living is on the rise, not only for younger generations but for older ones as well. Though the trend is caused in large part by worsening economic conditions for most people, the report highlights the social benefits of co-living, which helps to create a sense of community among people, particularly in an age where technology has the power to make people feel more isolated.

The report claims the lifestyle enjoyed by young people in cities is spreading to suburban areas, which increasingly feature nightlife opportunities, and incorporate transit access, walkability, and abundant options for retail, restaurants, and recreations. As Baby Boomers are expected to live longer and stay more active than previous generations have, the implications for housing are positive. And as communities increasingly recognize the threat posed by environmental damage, they are developing a commitment to environmental and social principles including sustainable engineering and design and socially conscious business practices. 

As the federal government fails to update the country’s infrastructure, some individual states have announced a commitment to doing so instead, making them a more attractive opportunity for the real estate industry and laying the foundation for economic growth. Finally, the report finds that technology is having a strong impact throughout all types of property, as consumers increasingly demand technological solutions for productivity and efficiency.

Millennials Buying Home

Millennials Face Difficulties Affording Homes

For many Americans, a key part of the American Dream is the ability to save enough money to afford a home. But for millennials, many of whom are currently at a point in their lives where they’d like to move out of their parents’ house or their apartment and own a piece of real estate, a number of factors can make this dream seem to be an impossibility. According to the Urban Institute, just 37% of millennials owned homes in 2015, down eight percentage points from Gen Xers and Baby Boomers when they were a similar age. If millennials owned homes at the same rate as previous generations, there would be around 3.4 million more homeowners today. And although 9 out of 10 millennial renters would like to purchase a home, only 4.9 percent say they plan to do so in the next year, and 34 percent anticipate waiting five years or more before being able to buy real estate. Among millennials who want to own a home but are unable to do so, 3 out of 4 cite affordability as the reason, with many citing a lack of savings for a down payment and the burden of student loans as contributing factors.

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The causes for millennials’ problems affording homes are multifaceted. Whereas many Baby Boomers were able to attend public colleges and universities without having to pay for tuition, most Millennials did not have the same luxury, instead having to borrow tremendous amounts of money to pay for educational costs which, despite offering a value which has remained stagnant over the past several decades, have grown substantially faster than the rate of inflation. Because a higher percentage of millennials attended university than previous generations, the value of a college degree has diminished, as employers have a wide variety of choices for hiring well-educated candidates. And while millennials’ paychecks have roughly the same purchasing power as those of Americans living 40 years ago, the average cost of housing has more than doubled in that time. It has been estimated that, at the current rate, it will take the majority of millennials twenty years to save enough money for a down payment.

The financial burdens imposed on millennials dreaming of owning a home extend beyond stagnant wages and student loan debt. The cost of renting an apartment is substantially greater than it used to be, and because of the generation’s difficulty earning money, financial institutions are more reluctant to grant credit to millennials, with 58 percent of millennials being denied credit, compared to 35 percent of prior generations. Millennials are also less likely to own stocks than other generations were, as a result of having come of age during the Great Recession and becoming skeptical of the stock market as a result, causing many millennials to miss out on some of the major benefits of the recent economic boom. As a result of these economic problems, some forecasters predict that real estate agents will have difficulty selling houses in the future, as millennials replace Baby Boomers as the country’s largest generation.

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Other factors discouraging millennials from homeownership are also at play. Millennials are the most racially diverse of any current American generation, and homeownership is more valued culturally among caucasians. Additionally, millennials are waiting longer than their parents and grandparents to get married and have children, as the marriage rate among young people has dropped from 52 percent in 1990 to 39 percent in 2015, delaying the urgency of owning a home. Also, millennials tend to prefer to live in cities more so than prior generations, where the cost of living is higher and purchasing a house is out of the question. As a result of economic changes over the past several decades, the demographic among millennials most likely to own a home are those who can earn more due to having a college education and come from a wealthy background, as they can borrow money from their parents to supplement the cost of a down payment. As houses are frequently the most valuable financial assets Americans own, not owning a house has a negative impact in a person’s overall ability to accumulate wealth over time. Additionally, intergenerational transfer of homes is likely to increase wealth disparity between races of millennials, as minorities are less likely to own and be able to inherit homes.

Though these prospects seem grim, a number of solutions have been proposed to help with the problem of home affordability among the younger generation. One proposed solution is to invest in programs teaching young people about the finances of homeownership, encouraging people to start saving up for a home from a younger age and increasing awareness of programs designed to help people afford homes. Another proposal is to update the criteria that creditors use to evaluate millennials’ suitability for loans, taking into account their rental, telecom, and utility payments. In any case, whether you’re interested in buying a home soon or not, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re keeping good track of your finances and have a smart, realistic plan for your future.


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