As stocks roar back toward their all-time highs (ignoring repeated warnings about incipient weakness in US economic growth), it's worth remembering that millions of underemployed and over-indebted Americans (mostly those between the ages of 23 and 35) have largely missed out on the post-crisis recovery.
And for these unfortunates, the missed opportunities for wealth creation extend beyond stocks (ownership rates for equities are mired at their lowest level in years) to the housing market, which is far more important for preserving household wealth. Though prices grew at their slowest annualized rate since 2014 in December, and sales have remained muted after a sustained slump, many real-estate brokers are trying to suss out the long-term implications of millennials' financial constraints.
To that end, a "soft" survey of millennials commissioned by Bankrate.com offered the latest indication that the ballooning pile of student debt remains one of the biggest obstacles preventing more millennials from buying their own homes (that, and the fact that a supply shortage has squeezed prices to levels that are unaffordable for most working Americans). To wit, one-in-five millennials say their student debt burden is the only thing holding them back from buying a home.
But even those millennials who can buy homes often regret it both financially and in the more traditional sense of "buyer's remorse".
Here's more from Bloomberg:
Almost two-thirds of millennial homeowners (ages 23-38) have buyers remorse over their home purchase. The most common regret among millennials is that they did not adequately anticipate unexpected maintenance costs.
"Repairs and maintenance costs are something all homeowners face. Consumers should expect to set aside 1% of their home’s purchase price each year to keep in a savings account to cover these expenses," said Bankrate analyst, Deborah Kearns.
Other complaints included homeowners taking on a larger mortgage payment than they can handle and buying a house that is too small, too big or in a bad area.
For those that don’t own a home, cost is the largest barrier to being a homeowner. About half of respondents said they don’t have enough income, while 41 percent cannot afford a down payment and the closing costs involved in the purchase. A third of respondents said that home prices are simply too high.
This is hardly surprising considering that, contrary to the narrative that earning a college degree is the key to wealth accumulation, most millennials with student debt have a negative net worth.
And though home ownership rates among young people have finally started to creep higher, for fully half of millennials, home ownership simply won't be possible without a gift or interest-free loan from friends and family.
It's just one reason why support for "Democratic Socialists" like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is so high among the generation that now comprises the largest share of the American workforce.