Kids of boomers are smarter about housing

Kids of boomers are smarter about housing

Echo boomers still want a home, but only when they’re ready

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By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch

CHICAGO (MarketWatch)—Here’s a benefit of the housing bust: It has created a generation of young Americans who are more knowledgeable about homeownership than their baby boomer parents were at their age.

At least that’s what the kids think.

Those between the ages of 18 and 35 still want to own a home, and view homeownership as an indicator of success, according to a survey released Monday by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. But they’ll buy only when they’re sure they’re ready for the responsibility—a sign of maturity from a group that often is stereotyped as being fiscally irresponsible and maintaining a less-than-stellar work ethic.

Moreover, 69% of the 1,001 18- to 35-year-olds surveyed also said the recent housing downturn has made them more knowledgeable about owning a home than their parents were at their age, the results found. And 77% think they’ve gained much of this knowledge because of the large amount of media coverage about the real-estate industry over the past six years.

“They’re not going to end up getting into a situation that they’ve seen… where they can’t keep the house” because they can no longer afford it, said Matt Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, a brokerage of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate based in New York and New Jersey.

Still, this survey suggests they haven’t given up on homeownership—even though other statistics and stories indicate people this age group would rather remain renters, he said.

While favorable home prices and low mortgage rates are tempting, people in this age group also are not going to buy until they’re ready for the responsibility, according to the survey. Sixty-nine percent said they will buy not only when can they afford it, but also when owning won’t disrupt their lifestyles.

It was only after saving up down-payment money, coming up to the end of his M.B.A. studies and getting a new and better job that 31-year-old Brandon Savisky bought his $224,000 home in Houston.

“It was more of my personal circumstances than market-driven,” he said of his purchase.

The survey also found that 75% of people in this age group think that owning a nice home is a key indicator of success, more so than taking extravagant vacations, owning an expensive car or having designer clothes. Forty percent said they’d take on a second job to save for a home and 23% said they’d move in with their parents to make it happen.

Members of “Gen Y are living at home with their parents, but this [survey] suggests they’re being strategic in living at home—not because they’re slacking,” Rand said.

Amy Hoak is a MarketWatch reporter based in Chicago.

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