The Young People Will Never Own Homes Lie that the Media Keep Pushing

February 04, 2024

It is not hard to get access to government data on homeownership. You just need an Internet connection, that’s it.

Unfortunately, it seems that cost-cutting or other measures prevent reporters at CNN and the New York Times from getting the data that the Census Bureau publishes quarterly on homeownership rates among young people. They keep telling their audiences that young people will never be able to own a home. This is in spite of the fact that homeownership rates among young people are higher today than in 2019 when they did not constantly run stories about young people not being able to own a home.

Here’s the picture from the Census Bureau.

Source: Census Bureau, Table 6.

To be clear, there are some real issues. The homeownership rate among young people is still below what it was before the collapse of the housing bubble and there was a longer-term decline beginning in the late seventies. (This decline is partially concealed in data that looks at homeownership rates among households, since a smaller percentage of young people have their own households today than in the late seventies, since they are still living with their parents.)

The recent run-up in mortgage rates has also made it difficult for many young people to buy a home. If high rates persist, then unless house prices fall, it will be hard for those who do not already own a home to buy one.

However, mortgage interest rates have already fallen, from a peak of over 8.0 percent last fall to around 6.6 percent at present. Most analysts expect further declines, although we are unlikely to see anything like the 3.0 percent rates of the pandemic era.

In any case, it would be dishonest to write as though persistently high rates is a given. No one wrote pieces in 1981 on the impossibility of homeownership based on the assumption that the 18.0 percent mortgage rates of that time would persist indefinitely.

It is not easy for young people to own a home, and that is a problem. But that problem is not new. Perhaps the major news outlets have just discovered this problem, but that is due to their own ignorance, not reality.   


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