What's changed in this generation such that very few young adults are able to buy their own homes? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Bill Walker, Chief Revenue Officer at Unison, on Quora:

Like previous generations, many of today's adults dream of owning their own home and view home ownership as a crucial step in building wealth and establishing roots. Accounting for 35% of first-time home buyers so far in 2019, millennials lead the pack of those who have actually purchased a home in the last year. Although that may seem like a high number, in reality it is still roughly 8% lower than it was for Gen X'ers and Baby Boomers when they were in the same age group. Home co-investing company, Unison, recently released their 2019 Affordability Report ( Unison | 2019 Affordability Report ) which calculated how long it would take a consumer to save for a 20% down payment across the country's top metros. Nationwide, it would take an average of 14 years to reach this milestone on the path to home ownership.

Why is that? Well, to say that today's real estate market is competitive barely scratches the surface. What really sets today's landscape apart is the perfect storm of rapidly rising prices and rapidly increasing debt levels (student loan debt at a record $1.6 trillion, for example) against incomes that are increasing at around half the rate that home prices are increasing. These challenges are making it more and more difficult to save for the 20% down payment that enables lower monthly housing expenses as a result of avoiding mortgage insurance (typically charged when a down payment is less than 20%) and obtaining the best mortgage interest rates.

Today's potential home buyers face different challenges than their predecessors. While home prices are significantly higher, only half of 30 year olds make as much as their parents did at the same age. When adjusted for inflation, today's average real wages have the same purchasing power as they did 40 years ago. This younger group of potential buyers have taken on the lion's share of the $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, are facing increasing health care costs as they come off of their parents' plans and are seeing other core expense categories like auto loans hitting all-time highs. All these factors contribute to today's adults not being able to purchase homes at the same rate previous generations were able to.

Fortunately this situation has the attention of government and private industry alike. Private companies like Unison, the leading Home Co-Investment company, are doubling and even quadrupling buyers' down payments to help them lower their monthly payments by 15-25%, enter the market more quickly, maintain financial flexibility, increase buying power or some combination of the above.

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Published on: Nov 12, 2019