Millennials Are Losing Faith in the American Dream—Here’s Why

published Jan 10, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: rawmn/Shutterstock)

Millennials are losing faith in the American dream—at least according to a new survey from Trulia. In 2015, 80 percent of Americans ages 18-34 said homeownership was part of their personal “American dream.” This year, that number dropped to just 71 percent.

For the survey, Trulia asked more than 2,000 American adults about their attitudes toward home ownership. Once an integral component of the so-called “American dream,” many well-documented factors are causing young people to see homeownership as a less likely part of their futures.

Among the obstacles preventing millennials from purchasing a home are the inability to save enough for a down payment (56 percent), rising home prices (35 percent), and having a poor credit history (32 percent).

Additional financial factors, including lack of a more stable job (30 percent) and inability to pay off student loans (26 percent) are of particular concern to this age group, too.

Though millennials may be losing faith in purchasing a home, they don’t speak for all Americans. When zoomed out to all respondents surveyed, the desire for homeownership actually increased to 73 percent this past year, up one percent from last year’s survey.

But even for those who want to—and are planning—on buying a home, these factors are stalling home purchasing for everyone. The survey found that 60 percent of Americans planning to buy will hold off on their purchase until after 2020.

Things that aren’t affecting interest in homeownership? Despite the increased prevalence of natural disasters, 52 percent of respondents reported that they are are no more or less concerned about this threat than they were in prior surveys.

And though some are quick to point to millennials’ perceived preference for smaller living spaces, such as tiny homes, as responsible for their delay in home buying, according to Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia and author of the report, that theory does not hold up.

“When asked about real estate targets in 2017, 39 percent of 18-34 year old adults said they wish they had chosen a larger home,” says Young. “That said, more young people are open to living in tiny homes than any other generation. When asked about trade-offs in 2018, 25 percent of millennials would live in a tiny home, compared to 18 percent of Gen Xers and 13 percent of boomers.”

As for putting off home buying until a buyer is more financially secure, Young says this is not a new phenomenon and is unlikely to have a major impacts on the housing market at large.