Oct 14, 2023 - Real Estate

Homeownership feels out of reach for DMV millennials

Illustration of a real estate for sale sign with the word NOPE on it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Nearly three-quarters of aspiring homebuyers say affordability is the No. 1 obstacle to owning a house, per a Bankrate study.

Why it matters: A recent Redfin report shows 38% of recent homebuyers under age 30 received help from family or an inheritance in order to afford their down payment.

By the numbers: Among U.S. millennials who don't already own a home, 44% say income is the No. 1 barrier to buying, per the study, closely followed by downpayment and closing costs (43%) and high home prices (42%).

The intrigue: Roughly 20% of millennials say they want to buy but they're just not ready yet. And 8% of millennials say they never want to own a home, per the study.

Zoom in: Talia Cadet, who works in public affairs and has a TikTok, bought her Capitol Heights semi-detached home in 2020. Savings, a solid career and sub-3% mortgage rates made it possible.

What they're saying: "If I was going to [buy], it was going to be then," Cadet says. Even with savings, Cadet says mortgage rates — hers is 2.75% — are ultimately what made buying affordable in her early 30s.

Context: Median home values in Prince George's County are up nearly 20% from August 2020 to 2023. And mortgage rates are up more than five percentage points from the rate Cadet locked

The other side: Buying isn't a priority for everyone. Imani Keal, a D.C.-based home and lifestyle content creator, plans to rent for the long haul.

  • It would take 10-15 years to save for the type of house she'd want to buy, the 28-year-old tells Axios.

Be smart: "You can build wealth just fine by renting," says Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride.

  • Taking time to save, invest, build your credit and advance in your career can meaningfully improve your financial picture, he says.
  • Also, save beyond the initial down payment to weather unexpected additional expenses — the No. 1 reason millennial homeowners have buyers' remorse.

Go deeper: Extreme weather could raise insurance rates nationwide, hiking the cost of homeownership even higher.

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