- 59% of young adults plan to use their pandemic savings on a down payment for a house, per Zillow.
- A wealthier group of millennials was able to tuck away discretionary spending as savings last year.
- They drove the 2020 housing boom, which soon morphed into an inventory crisis.
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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.
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.