As the U.S. economy improves and adds jobs, younger Americans—millennials—are slowly starting to move out from their parents’ basements, where a record number of them have been living for the past few years. They’re not buying homes as much as they are renting them, but how much and where is crucial to know in order to understand where the housing recovery is headed.
Over the past year, all the growth in net household formations has been among renters, according to the U.S. Census. For those 35 years old and younger, their home ownership rate has fallen from 44 percent to 36 percent over the past decade, which is why construction of multi-family apartments is at the highest level in a quarter-century this year.
But back to that migration from the basement. How big is it? Millennials will spend $1.6 trillion on home purchases and $600 billion on rent over the next five years, more per person than any other generation with more of them opting for more affordable rents versus paying the big price tags to buy homes, according to a new report from The Demand Institute, a non-profit think tank operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen. Millennials will form just over eight million new households, albeit most of them rental households.
The report found the millennials do aspire to home ownership, just as previous generations did, and they will be important drivers of the housing market. The difference between them and other generations, however, is that their time horizon for home ownership will be shorter, and their aspirations have been altered somewhat simply by the fact that they came of age in the Great Recession.