Over half of young adults plan to use their pandemic savings on buying a home, which could worsen the housing crisis

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Millennials and Gen Z are planning to use their pandemic savings on buying a house.

America may be running out of houses, but young adults are continuing to set their sights on homeownership.

More than half of them (59%) said they plan to use their pandemic savings on a down payment for a home, according to a recent Zillow survey that polled over 1,200 millennials and Gen Zers. It was the most common answer beyond using their savings for everyday living expenses.

“Even in an unprecedented global pandemic, homeownership still appears to be a priority and aspiration among the sometimes called ‘rent forever generation,'” the report reads.

The survey found that 83% of young adults reported saving money in at least one category during the pandemic. This cohort found themselves on the upside of the millennial wealth gap that the pandemic exacerbated.

Lower-income millennials who were already contending with an affordability crisis had little to fall back on as they experienced job loss and pay cuts. But a higher-earning group with stable income was able to save and invest money they would have otherwise spent in non-pandemic times.

Two financial advisers told Insider last June their high-net-worth millennial clients were tucking away excess cash, as much as $3,000 a month in some cases, which normally would’ve been spent on brunches or plane tickets.

Read more: Millennials are getting screwed again by their 2nd housing crisis in 12 years

The extra cushion helped them drive the 2020 housing boom – more millennials became homeowners than any other generation that year. Millennials are turning ages 25 to 40 in 2020, meaning many of them are entering prime homebuying years.

Interest rates hit a historical low in 2020, making it easier for those with enough money saved for a down payment to buy a home. But the combination with the year when many were working from home soon led to a cutthroat housing market, marked by a historic housing shortage and lumber scarcity which both propelled housing costs to several record highs. That has resulted in bidding wars nearly everywhere nationwide, with competing bidders throwing down all-cash bids and higher and higher down payments.

Many millennials able to snag a house did so by paying above market price, while others saw homeownership pushed further out of reach as housing prices skyrocketed and morphed into an inventory crisis.

As Insider’s Ben Winck reported, the lumber shortage has largely made it too expensive to for builders to construct more homes. Housing starts fell nearly 10% through April after surging the month prior, signaling supply won’t bounce back all that soon. Lumber has come down somewhat since from its super-expensive level, though.

Considering that millennials have just reached peaked homebuying age, and some Gen Zers are already househunting, young adults will be driving the housing market for years to come. This survey suggests that wealthier members of both generations will put their pandemic savings toward down payments, so the unequal housing boom may not abate any time soon.

Whether they will be able to find an available house is another question.

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Most millennial homeowners regret buying their home, survey finds

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Millennial homeowners are regretting buying a house.

Millennial homeowners are having buyer’s remorse.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of millennials regret buying their home, a new Bankrate survey that polled 1,400-plus homeowners found. Just over 20% cited expensive maintenance costs as the reason why, while 13% said it’s because they overpaid.

Those reasons come as no surprise in today’s cutthroat housing market, marked by both a historic housing shortage and lumber shortage that have propelled housing costs to an all-time high. It’s resulted in heated bidding wars, where competing buyers are throwing down all-cash offers and offering higher down payments.

The skyrocketing prices and tight inventory is creating new affordability challenges for millennials, who have reached peak age for first-time homeownership. They led the housing market last year, but as the boom turned into an inventory crisis, homeownership fell out of reach for the generation yet again.

Many of those able to snag a house only did so by paying above market price, and some rushed the process in hopes of grabbing something before someone else did.

Consider Stella Guan, who told Insider’s Taylor Borden back in February that she regretted buying a home during the pandemic. Guan, who moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles, said she “wanted to get things done fast” and made seven or eight offers before one was finally accepted. Guan thought she landed her dream ranch-style home, saying she thought she got lucky since there was “somehow no counteroffer.”

But the home had black mold, and repairs cost way more than planned. She budgeted $30,000 to fix up the property but ended up paying upward of $50,000 to overhaul the house. While Guan planned to update the home to her tastes, she said: “I spent all my money on repair and not renovation.”

Unable to lure a new buyer, so she sold to an iBuyer and recouped only 50% of her money. She said the state of the housing market can push people into regrettable decisions.

Homeownership isn’t always as it seems

Guan isn’t the only one who found home improvement costly, per findings from BofA Research’s sixth annual millennial home improvement survey.

It found that millennials are more likely to buy a fixer-upper than a new home, and that some are using loans more frequently than cash to fund home improvement projects exceeding $10,000. When BofA last conducted the survey in 2017, only 34% were using loans for home improvement. Today, 42% of respondents are.

The data suggests that some millennials are resorting to buying old homes and renovating them as an alternative to attempting to outbid an all-cash offer, but that some are now living in fixer uppers they can’t afford.

Other first-time homebuyers are increasingly making offers on houses they’ve shopped for online and through social media. While the move is second nature for a digitally savvy generation, it also proved to be an easier and less time consuming process for those buying a house in an area they’re not currently residing in and a way to move swiftly when houses are flying off the market. But some may be realizing their new house isn’t all it seemed to be behind the screen.

As Thao Le, a professor of housing economics and real-estate finance at Georgia State University, told Borden, “The trajectory of the pandemic, and thus the economy, is still very much unpredictable.” She added that before committing to homeownership, “aspiring buyers should evaluate their financial situation and job security carefully.”

Are you a millennial having a tough time buying a house right now? Email hhoffower@insider.com with your story.

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