Gen Z Eying Real Estate Trends

photo by Thomas Tolkien

The Washington Post along with its content partner National Association of Realtors quoted me in Eye on the Future. It reads, in part,

The suburbs as we know them are in flux. Many of the country’s bedroom communities have traditionally been known for their single-family homes and a lack of walkable public spaces. That’s changing as condos, sprawling townhome complexes and apartment buildings now dot areas where single-family homes would have been built.  Developers are building walkable public spaces to accommodate young families leaving cities but still seeking urban-like amenities.

 Another wave of change is expected in the next five to 10 years. That’s when members of Generation Z-those born on the heels of millennials-will become homeowners. Experts say they’ll transform areas that are sandwiched between major cities and suburbs into districts with an urban feel and amenities, without the hefty price tags major metros demand.

That transformation is already starting to happen. “Many of our ‘suburbs’ are actually neighborhoods in Los Angeles, particularly the San Fernando Valley,” said Kathryn Bishop, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Studio City, Calif. and member of the National Association of Realtors. “In the Valley, many neighborhoods have become mini ‘cores.’ Sherman Oaks, Encino and Woodland Hills have office towers, good restaurants and night-life business creating their own city areas.”

It’s no surprise that the younger generation needs to find an alternative to the sky-high costs of urban living. The Economic Policy Institute noted in 2016 that folks who live in San Francisco face a cost of living that’s 52.9 percent above the national average. For New Yorkers, living costs were 49.4 percent higher. The country’s least-affordable place to live was Washington D.C., where residents faced costs 63.5 percent higher than the national average.

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“Since the financial crisis there has been an increase in multigenerational households, driven in large part by financial limitations and insecurity as well as by marital status and educational attainment,” said David Reiss, professor of law and research director at he Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School.  “Young adults are more likely to live at their parent’s home in recent years than they have been for more than a century.”

Wednesday’s Academic Roundup

Gen X & Millennial Renters

Gen X

Jason Michael

MainStreet quoted me in Generation X and Millennials Are Choosing to Remain Renters. It opens,

Although James Crosby is getting married later this year to his college sweetheart, the financial analyst said they do not have plans to buy a home in Atlanta in the next few years.

While Crosby, who is 25, said he loathes paying rent and not building up equity in a home, renting has its benefits. Right now, it’s easy for him to budget for rent in an apartment, because the amount he pays each month is static and he will not be faced with any costly surprises such as repairing an air conditioner.

Like Crosby, fewer Americans are drawn to owning a home and plan to keep renting as wages remain stagnant and home prices have risen. A recent Gallup poll found that many people are content to be renters with 41% of non-homeowners who said they do not plan to purchase a home in “the foreseeable future.” The gap is widening since only one of three people agreed with this sentiment two years ago. The percentage of people who own homes has dropped to 61%, which is the lowest figure in almost 15 years, the poll revealed.

Tepid Economy Plays a Factor

Both the desire and ability to buy a house is waning among some individuals, because “the economy has kept young people from forming their own households as quickly as they had before the financial crisis,” said David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School.

Some Gen X-ers and Millennials are also living at home longer than previous generations and wind up deferring homeownership. The weak and soft job markets have impacted Millennials who are also faced with carrying a heavy debt load from having to finance their undergraduate degrees.

“I would predict that if the economy warms up for a reasonable time, expectations about homeownership are likely to change quickly,” Reiss said.

Reiss on FHA Mortgages for First Timers

MainStreet quoted me in FHA Loans Can Be A Good Option for First-Time Homebuyers. It opens,

FHA loans can be an attractive option for consumers purchasing their first home, because they require much smaller down payments.

First-time homebuyers often consider these Federal Housing Administration loans, because they do not require a large down payment or high FICO scores unlike traditional 30-year fixed mortgages. Given that young households tend not to have the savings for a substantial down payment, they can be an attractive option, David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School.

Because FHA loans are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, this guarantee reduces the risk of “loss of principal for lenders, which is advantageous for borrowers,” said Joseph Cahoon, director of the Folsom Institute for Real Estate at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business School in Dallas.

This results in some consumers being able to put down as little as 3.5% for a down payment towards the purchase of a new home. For many first-time Millennial homebuyers, the prospect of saving 20% for a standard down payment has been challenging during the past several years because of a combination of low growth in wages and high student loan debt.

“For those borrowers with good credit, FHA insured loans offer a good pathway to home ownership, he said.

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“Homebuyers should compare all of their options before going with an FHA mortgage,” Reiss said.

Reiss on “Generation Rent”

MSN Real Estate quoted me in ‘Generation Rent’ trend changes the housing game.

Tougher lending requirements, a transient lifestyle and seeing mortgages throw their
parents’ finances in turmoil are causing more millennials to rent instead of buy a
home.

“This attitude shift on homeownership and the rise in demand for rentals is directly influencing the growth of private firms looking to fill out real estate portfolios as well as property management groups that have scooped up business from investors who have no interest in the day-to-day of being a landlord,” said Don Lawby, president of Real Property Management in Utah.

Some 82% of consumers believe owning a home is a critical part of wealth building but 18% said they are not willing to assume the risk of a mortgage, according to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) survey.

“The unwillingness to take on a mortgage loan may be a smart decision for some, as many borrowers have learned the hard way that homeownership does not come with a guarantee of continually increasing equity,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson with the NFCC.

The “Generation Rent” phenomenon is not just about younger Americans. As a societal shift has slowly emerged to redefine the American Dream, many older Americans with empty nests are also exploring apartment living.

“Apartments are a maintenance-free alternative to single-family homes and retirement communities,” said Abe Tekippe, a spokesperson with Waterton Associates, a national apartment investor and operator. “They also allow residents to move closer to shopping, dining and entertainment venues, making them more accessible to aging Baby Boomers.”

For many years, homeownership was a policy objective of the federal government, which symbolized a level of achievement for a person or family but these days many are taking a closer look at whether the costs and benefits of home ownership outperforms the cost of renting.

“People are realizing that coming up with funds and motivation each month for maintenance and up-keep isn’t feasible for economic, medical, lifestyle or other
reasons,” said Dillon Baynes, co-founder and managing partner with Columbia Ventures in Atlanta.

If generation rent continues, a slow down in home sales is bound to have a ripple effect. “If renting remains a popular choice, it will certainly have an impact on the broader economy starting with the home building industry,” said David Reiss, professor with Brooklyn Law School.

“There would be a move away from single-family construction to multi-family.”