Most millennials are prepared to take drastic measures to buy a home, with 65% saying they would pay up to a 10% mortgage rate and 23% admitting they would buy at 15% or more, according to a new study from Clever Real Estate.
A combination of high-interest rates, inflation, and stagnant wages are financially squeezing millennials, but it has not diminished their enthusiasm for homeownership.
Clever's survey of millennial homebuyers found that today’s real estate market is tough — and even more challenging if you’re young. About 93% of millennials said the market has impacted their homebuying plans, and 76% are concerned it will worsen before they buy a home.
Interest Rates Are an Obstacle
Raising interest rates was a strategic move to cool inflation, and it has been effective so far. The housing market has slowed, but millennials are starting to buy their first homes and feel the effects.
About 96% of millennials said high interest rates had affected their homebuying plans. As a result, they are looking at smaller, less-expensive homes or holding off on buying altogether. Half of millennials said high interest rates are a barrier to homeownership.
Two-thirds of millennials regret not purchasing a home when rates were lower. It's a regret that is not unique to their generation but especially poignant to buyers looking for starter homes.
Millennials Want To Become Homeowners at Any Price
Despite obstacles to homeownership, many millennials are intent on buying, and their enthusiasm knows few limits.
More than three-quarters of millennial home buyers would consider an interest rate higher than the national average of about 7%.
Some young buyers would take additional bank-breaking measures to get the keys to a house. For their dream home, 79% of millennials would pay above the asking price, including 11% who would offer $100,000 or more above the asking price.
High Hopes, Low Bank Balances
Millennials’ desire for homeownership remains strong, but their finances have taken a beating. A quarter of millennials have less than $10,000 in savings, and 12% have less than $1,000 saved. Additionally, 5% have no savings at all.
Most millennials carry a significant amount of debt, too. About 57% of millennials have $10,000 in debt, more than double the 25% who have $10,000 in savings.
Their shaky financial state has shaped their approach to home buying. Almost half of millennials plan to put down less than the traditional 20% on a home, and 57% plan to purchase a home that costs less than the median U.S. price of $431,000.
Desperate Measures Lead To Disappointment
Millennials have had to adjust to market conditions, which hasn’t always yielded positive outcomes.
Although 35% of millennials fear making major home repairs, they have embraced fixer-uppers. Two-thirds of millennial buyers would purchase a fixer-upper, but 18% of millennial homeowners who bought one regret it.
Millennials’ idea of a fixer-upper goes well beyond a home that needs a new coat of paint. Two-thirds of millennials would buy a fixer-upper with asbestos, 62% would buy a home with mold, and 58% would buy a fixer-upper with a bad foundation.
Millennials are also open to buying a home sight unseen. About 85% of them would consider buying a home without ever touring it in person, but 13% of millennial homeowners who bought sight unseen regret their decision.
Necessary compromises in home quality, financing, or the buying process have left many millennials with remorse. A stunning 90% have regrets about their first home purchase, up from 82% in 2023. The most common regret is a bad location, followed by bad neighbors and a high-interest rate.
Agents Can Help Millennials
In a challenging market, even the smallest advantages can be the difference between a satisfying home purchase and a disastrous one. One of the easiest ways for millennial buyers to gain a meaningful edge is to choose an experienced agent to help them navigate the local market.
“My advice to millennials who are looking to break into the housing market is to put together a road map and plan ahead,” says Adrian Alvarado, a California-based agent. “Millennials should explore options with a lender to see what assistance programs are available in their area that can help cover down payments or low down payments.”
Alvarado also said savvy agents can help negotiate a purchase agreement in which the seller agrees to take some of the financial burden off the buyer.
“A local Realtor may be able to get assistance with closing costs from sellers as well,” Alvarado explains. “Having local knowledge can make a huge difference. The longer a home has been on the market, the more open a seller might be to negotiating.”
For millennial buyers wrestling with regrets, Alvarado recommends taking the long view and remembering where they live now won’t necessarily be where they live forever.
He adds, “Think of your first home as the springboard to your future dream home.”