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Rental Housing Choices Bridge Generation Gaps

SS7-31-13King Solomon believed that wisdom is essential for everyone, young and old – and prudence is a virtue that knows no age limits. The great King might not be surprised, then, to see that today’s millennials – new college graduates and others in their general age bracket – and retirees are sharing some key preferences about housing choices. New housing statistics reveal that the rental market continues to expand – and these two groups are leading the pack of those opting to rent, rather than own a home.

Conditions for baying houses remain pretty favorable in spite of slowly rising interest rates and home prices, and more stringent requirements for mortgage applicants. Even so, the number of renters continues to rise. And while some have been forced out of homeownership because they lost a home to foreclosure in the housing collapse, or because they simply don’t have the finances or creditworthiness to support a home loan, it’s the under-40s and over-60s who are choosing to rent for the long term.

Student loan debt is one factor that keeps some millennials and others in their general age range from buying a home or taking out a loan on other big-ticket items, but that’s not the whole story. For many young professionals the ability to be mobile is a major career asset. Being able to relocate for a job looks good on a resume and enhances hireabilty in some fields. And while a significant number of people in this group say they’d like to own a home someday, the emphasis is on “someday,” when they’re ready to settle into a stable career and have a family.

On the other end of the generational spectrum, a growing number of retirees are choosing to rent for the same reasons: mobility and no need for a family friendly home. In some markets around the country, those larger, post-starter homes are hitting the market as their owners opt to travel or downsize to accommodate an empty nest.

Increasingly, members of this age group are abandoning suburbia for the city, too, citing easier access to services and better access to events and activities. And they also want to be mobile, with the option to move easily at short notice.

Relatively affluent and generally reliable, millennial workers and baby boomer retirees play a major part in creating the new wave of renters. For investors building wealth in income property as Jason Hartman advises, these two groups may be potential tenants worth watching.  (Top image: Flickr/PaperCat)

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