Category: Financial / Topics: Demographics Financial Housing Planning Trends

Millennials, Boomers and Housing

by Stu Johnson

Posted: January 28, 2020

A trend with multi-generational impact…

In a January 20 article entitled "Millennials' share of the U.S. housing market: Small and shrinking" Christopher Ingram of the Washington Post paints a dramatic picture that could have significant impact on senior homeowners. I will provide the key bullet points here, then you can read the full article on the Washington Post website.

Ingraham begins:

Today’s young adults are starting their lives on drastically different financial footing than their parents did decades ago. They pay more for such necessities as food and housing as wages have flattened, leaving many young families to incur mountains of debt and a limited path for growing wealth.

  • In 1990 baby boomers, whose median age was 35, owned nearly one-third of American real estate by value.
  • In 2019, the millennial generation, with a median age of 31, owned just 4%.
  • While there may be some catch-up by the time they reach 35, millennials may not reach even the 20% of homeowership value achieved by the smaller Generation X cohort at the same point in their lives.
  • Because home ownership is a significant wealth builder, millennials are likely to have lower lifetime wealth, which is bad news for the economy.
  • Millennials face the dual challenges of housing costs with median values well beyond typical salaries and massive debt, primarily through student loans.

Seniors are not immune, as Ingram points out:

As baby boomers slowly age out of homeownership, a projected $13.5 trillion in housing inventory will come on the market in the coming years. But millennials and younger generations might not be able to afford them.

. . . On the other hand, some of those boomers will leave their estates to their children [which may mitigate the trend to some extent].

. . . One mystery remains, however: As things stand, the share of housing wealth accumulated by American millennials is falling — in 2016 it reached a high of 7.5 percent and has been declining steadily since. Conversely, boomers and members of the silent generation have seen their collective share of the American housing market rise about 5 percentage points since 2016.

This article was also posted on, which is published and edited by Stu Johnson.

Stu Johnson is owner of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois focused on "making information make sense."

E-mail the author (moc.setaicossajs@uts*)

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Posted: January 28, 2020

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