Millennials now represent 42 percent of all new home loans, and are buying outside major metro areas, study shows
SANTA CLARA, Calif., (Feb. 20, 2019) — Realtor.com®, the Home of Home Search℠, today released new survey data revealing members of the millennial generation have increased their home buying purchase power and now boast the largest share of new home loans by dollar volume, larger than both Generation X and the baby boomer generation.
These insights, based on a realtor.com® analysis of residential mortgage loan originations from Optimal Blue, show that while the median home buying price millennials take on is still lower than that of Generation X or baby boomers, millennials are showing interest in more affordable markets. Additionally, millennials are making lower down payments and taking on larger mortgages when compared to Gen Xers and baby boomers.
“Millennials are getting older, with better jobs and deeper pockets, allowing them to expand their collective purchase power, and hence, their footprint in the market,” said Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com®. “The stereotype that millennials primarily choose to buy homes and live in large metro areas isn’t the reality. Results show millennials’ expansion is more heavily conditioned by affordability than in prior years, so their eyes are set on less traditional secondary markets where homes and jobs are now available and plentiful.”
Affordability is such a key factor for millennial home buyers that this generation is moving to places previous generations have not, like Buffalo, N.Y., the top affordable market for millennials, according to this study.
Millennial Home Buying is Driven by Affordability
In addition to increasing their buying power and taking on larger mortgages, the data shows millennials have consistently made lower down payments than other generations since 2015. While other generations have increased their down payments in response to rising prices, millennials have not been able to increase their down payments as much as older generations. Millennial down payments averaged 8.8 percent in December 2018, compared to 11.9 percent for Generation X and 17.7 percent for the more equity-rich baby boomers.
Given that the majority of millennial home buyers are searching for their first homes and do not bring equity from a previous home, it’s no surprise they are putting down smaller down payments. This is likely a driver of their activity in more affordable markets, where their money goes further.
Top U.S. Markets for Home Buyers Varies by Generation
Within the last year, millennials have moved to affordable areas with strong job markets where they have more buying power. At the end of 2018, the median price of a mortgaged home purchased by millennials was $238,000, $26,000 less than the median price of a home mortgaged by baby boomers ($264,000) and $51,000 than Generation X ($289,000). The top five markets where millennials now generate more than 50 percent of the mortgages and their share grew by more than four percent are:
- Buffalo, N.Y.
- Columbus, Ohio
As members of Generation X are in their prime income-earning years, they purchased homes in strong job markets and secondary home markets, with five of the 10 markets on the list having unemployment rates higher than the national rate of 3.7 percent. The top five markets where Gen X purchased a large and/or growing share of homes are:
- Los Angeles
- Providence, R.I.
- Bridgeport, Conn.
- Jacksonville, Fla.
Many boomers are retired or rapidly approaching retirement, and therefore, showed a strong preference for buying homes in markets within primarily low-tax states or markets that are lower-cost than nearby metros, presumably to maintain wealth earned during their working years throughout their senior years. The top five markets where boomers made up a large and/or growing share of mortgaged purchases are:
- Knoxville, Tenn.
- Sacramento, Calif.
- Memphis, Tenn.
- Oklahoma City
- Riverside, Calif.
This report on loan originations by age and generational groups is based on a realtor.com® analysis of a sample of residential mortgage loan originations from Optimal Blue. The ‘Generational Scores’ were calculated using an equal weighting of a group’s mortgage origination share and year over year share growth within a particular metro.
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 Greatest Generation: < 1946; Baby Boomers: >= 1946 AND <= 1964; Generation X: > 1964 AND <= 1981; Millennials: > 1981 AND <= 2000; Generation Z: > 2000.