The Slipping Reality of Home Ownership

By on January 3, 2019

Home ownership has long been part of the American Dream, but it’s become an unattainable luxury for a growing number of Americans.

new report from Stanford University illustrates how younger Americans are falling behind their parents in their ability to buy a home.

Forty-eight percent of Baby Boomers had bought a house by the time they were 30 years of age, but only 36% of Millennials have managed to do so by the same age. Also, Millennials are more likely to face a higher mortgage debt burden.

The rate of homeownership has now fallen to a 50-year low at 62.9%. At its peak, prior to the last recession, homeownership reached an all-time high of 69%.

Not surprisingly, married couples are the most likely to own a home, especially those in their mid-fifties or younger. Regardless of marital status, the majority of Americans 75 years of age or older is likely to own a house.

Percentage Bought Home by Age 30

Marriage used to be a sufficient reason for many Americans to buy a house, but that rule of thumb has changed.  Here is what the report observed about this trend:

“Young generations today report getting married, having children, starting to save for retirement and successfully managing student debt, all before buying a home.  As such, buying a home is being delayed until multiple milestones are achieved.”

This delay, the researchers concluded, is slowing the rate at which younger Americans grow lifetime wealth through building home equity.

Here are some other findings in the Stanford study:

  • Americans without a college degree have experienced the biggest drop in homeownership at an 18 percent decline. Individuals with a college degree have experienced a nine percentage point drop. Individuals with graduate degrees had only a five percentage point decrease in ownership.
  • Most Americans are married when they buy a house.  Since the average age of marriage has increased, so has the age of initial home ownership.

College debt per student has reached historic levels which has impacted the ability to buy a home.  The average net worth of Americans born in the early 1980s was less than $10,000 which is severely restricting their ability to save for a down payment.


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