Pandemic Pushing Some Millennials to Look Into Homeownership

Among adults who don't own homes, millennials are most likely generation to consider buying one amid COVID-19

(Getty Images / Morning Consult illustration by Samantha Elbouez)
September 28, 2020 at 6:00 am ET
  • 28% of millennials who don’t live in a home they own said they are more interested in buying one because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • 20% of all adults, 20% of Gen Zers and 19% of Gen Xers who don’t live in a home they own said the same.

  • Baby boomers who don’t live in a home they own were the most likely generation to say the pandemic hasn’t affected their interest in homeownership, at 76%.

 

A new series from Morning Consult takes a deeper look at how the coronavirus pandemic could permanently alter millennials’ behavior and how, in turn, that could impact the economy at large. The data is drawn from a poll of 4,400 adults, including 1,287 millennials.

 

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to make city-dwelling less of a necessity for urban professionals facing the prospect of continued remote work, some millennials are looking to bid farewell to rental life in favor of more space and stability in their living arrangements.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, bringing activity to a halt earlier this year and stymying activities like traveling and going out to eat and shop.

The housing market, however, hasn’t yet seen the same kind of downturn. Demand has risen during the crisis, with existing home sales rising 10.5 percent in August from the same month last year.

A good portion of that demand is being driven by younger buyers, a new survey from Morning Consult suggests. 

Among those who don’t live in homes they own, millennials are the most likely generation, at 28 percent, to say that the coronavirus pandemic has made them more interested in buying their own home in the future.

Gen Z follows millennials at 20 percent, while 19 percent of Gen Xers and just 9 percent of baby boomers say the same.

Some of the generational difference in homeownership interest can likely be attributed to age: Millennials have already delayed home ownership, so those in the upper age bracket of that generation might simply be ready to move out of rented spaces, especially with coronavirus restrictions. Most baby boomers who are able to own their own homes most likely already do, reflected in the highest percentage of those who said that their interest in homeownership hasn’t changed because of COVID-19 at 76 percent.

The survey polled 4,400 adults from Sept. 8-10 and has a margin of error of 1 percentage point. Adults who don’t live in a home they own totaled 1,863 and have a 2-point margin of error, and within that group, millennials totaled 737 with a 4-point margin of error. 

The question of millennials and homeownership addresses something more fundamental about the generation: While older groups are more likely to have settled into their mortgages and financial habits, the coronavirus could permanently shape the future financial priorities of millennials, currently the largest working cohort in the United States.

It’s already affecting millennials’ spending priorities, although the group isn’t alone in that.

To gauge how this could be changing, Morning Consult asked how all adults, including millennials, would spend an extra $1,000 in a month.  This analysis is particularly important because, unlike the first time Morning Consult asked this question in March 2019, the government did actually give people an extra $1,200 earlier in the pandemic, and further stimulus is still being negotiated among the Trump administration and Congress.

Compared to the 2019 poll, millennials were 6 points more likely to say they would pay outstanding bills with an extra $1,000 a month (24 percent) and 6 points more likely to say they would save it (29 percent). The share who said they would invest it stayed the same at 9 percent, and the share who said they would travel dropped to 1 percent from 3 percent.

That largely reflects what Morning Consult saw with all adults: 20 percent said they would pay outstanding bills, a 3-point rise, and 31 percent said they would save it, a 6-point jump. Nine percent said they would invest it, compared to 8 percent who said the same in 2019, and 2 percent said they would travel, a 3-point drop from the 5 percent who said the same previously. 

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