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Gen Z Ain’t Got No Home
We talk about Gen Z a lot here in The Juice.
Maybe you’re Gen Z yourself. Maybe you’re the parent of a kid born between 1997 and 2012.
There are nearly 70 million of these little rascals in America. So there’s a better than decent chance you fall into one of these groups.
As our friends at real estate researcher Point2 put in a study we’ll discuss today:
Moving out and getting your own place has never been easy. However, this is painfully true for America’s youngest, who have already faced a pandemic, crippling inflation, historically high mortgage rates and an overall turbulent economy.
No wonder why Gen Z is among the cohorts known for dream (or is it doom?) scrolling Redfin (RDFN) and Zillow (Z) listings, then saying screw it, we’re just gonna blow our money on Taylor Swift tickets, $18 avocado toasts and $16 Aperol Spritzes.
Anyhow, all of this ties into our 2024 retirement focus.
You can’t remove housing from the retirement equation. It can make or break your prospects for retirement. Especially for Gen Z.
If they get into a situation that stretches their budgets, they might not be able to save for retirement. But, if they manage to pay off their mortgage, at least they won’t have a house payment when they’re older. However, if they lived for their house, what kind of life was that?
Or maybe they say screw home ownership and rent, plowing all their extra cash into retirement savings. Can they cross the finish line victoriously? Better yet, maybe they inherit a house and ride life free and clear of high housing costs.
The possibilities are endless. However, as a whole, the situation looks pretty bleak. At least it does, at the moment.
Less than 17% of Generation Z owns a home. To see where Gen Z needs to look to up that number, Point2 considered the existing Gen Z home ownership and unemployment rates alongside income and other factors across U.S. cities.
Fort Wayne, Indiana; Corpus Christi, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Laredo, Texas; and Memphis, Tennessee topped the list of the places where home ownership is most feasible for Gen Z. The South and Midwest dominate the list.
Of course, the places where it’s next to, if not impossible are bigger cities, including many of the usual suspects in California, as well as Newark, New Jersey; Richmond, Virginia; and Lexington, Kentucky making the list.
Why would Lexington, a relatively affordable housing market, make the list?
Because, here again, the study considered multiple factors aside from home prices. In Lexington, inventory is low, unemployment among Gen Z is high, median income among Gen Z is super low and around one-third of homes in the city sell for above the asking price.
What this study tells us is that — more than ever — place matters. It used to be that you could live just about anywhere and make it work. But everything’s more complicated now. If you’re young and targeting home ownership, the mix of salary and local housing market conditions matter more than ever. Where there’s a will, there might no longer be a way.
While the findings still show it’s nearly impossible for most of Gen Z to afford a home in Manhattan, it’s actually technically harder, based on the data, in Brooklyn, due, in part, to a much higher, Gen Z unemployment rate. It’s 14.7% in Brooklyn compared to 8.2% in Manhattan.
A few thoughts.
We love studies like this. They’re interesting and informative. But they also only tell part of the story.
First, no matter how tough the housing market is, individual-level factors beyond place matter. If you’re a Harvard Business School or USC grad with rich parents who lands a six-figure gig in Manhattan or Los Angeles, the path to home ownership might not be all that difficult for you.
Second, and more important, what does the future hold? Independent of other factors, is it really a big deal that people under 25 aren’t homeowners … yet? The bigger concern is what are the chances they’ll get there? And is it still a righteous goal to try to get as many people into home ownership as we can? Because if home ownership impedes retirement savings should it be one of your biggest money goals?
The questions — without clear answers — that we ponder together.
The Bottom Line: If you are Gen Z or have a youngster out in the world, what’s their situation? Use the feedback link below to tell The Juice all about it.
Speaking of feedback, we had a reader named Lynn write the other day and say: “How about some tips about dividend paying stocks please.”
You don’t have to twist our arm. The Juice loves talking about dividend stocks. So we’ll do that tomorrow with an idea or two and how dividend stocks can work — or not — as part of a long-term retirement plan or in retirement.
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