The Generational Divide Behind America’s Housing Problem

The Generational Divide Behind America’s Housing Problem

One of the most basic needs of any person, regardless of age, is a stable roof over their head. While apartments and condominiums are always an option, many young Americans always pictured themselves in a house.

Unfortunately, these assets are not easy to come by. For millenials, this is a crushing reality that becomes even harder to bear because failure can mean going without a suitable dwelling.

Only 62.2 percent of Americans owned homes in 2015, and this total was down from the previous year. Although the number has hovered between half and three-quarters of the population, the demographics represented in these statistics provide much more detail on the situation.

It seems that older individuals, namely Baby Boomers who own their homes, are not moving out at the rate many assumed they would. Combine this with a lack of focus on architecture and housing development in the past few decades, and it is easy to see why young people have limited options in this area.

A continuous increase in population size over the past several decades has not helped matters, leaving more aspiring homeowners than there are dwellings to house them. Even if young people browse in lower-income or small-scale communities where options should be more plentiful, the majority of homeowners are older.

This is logical in the sense that older individuals got their start in the housing search much earlier. While hanging onto one’s house in the long-term is a positive accomplish, the experience young people have while searching for affordable housing is not nearly as positive.

Just how lopsided is the distribution? It’s believed that over half of all homeowners are about the age of 55. The problem for millenials comes with pursuing these same luxuries not only with a diminished supply to work with, but with a more tumultuous economy and more stringent hiring requirements.

While there have been steps taken to make the searching process easier, things like inflation and regulation were not as prominent decades ago as they are now. The new barriers to entry pose challenges for young people, many of whom are already at a disadvantage due to a lack of references or credit.

Many of these regulatory measures actually keep current homeowners around. Exemptions from property taxes incentivizes older homeowners to stick around and keep their current dwelling instead of moving on to other areas. The result has been called a gridlock, resulting in a tense standoff that sees big differences in housing realities for different age groups.

What is the solution? Everything from seller seminars explaining the benefits of moving on to auctions designed to sell houses quick have been used to treat this problem. While useful in some ways, they don’t have the reach (or the resources) to address the cause of the issue.

Even in areas where housing is plentiful, high populations are sure to follow. With more people moving in and homeowners looking to hold onto their valuable asset, young people still find themselves coming up empty handed. Without a long-term plan set in place, the problem could grow worse over time.

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