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3 signs of how Millennial homeownership has fallen in Metro Atlanta

by Peter Thomas Ricci

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It’s no mystery that Millennials face unique challenges on the homeownership front. From slow wage growth to soaring student debt burdens, economic forces have kept Millennials on the housing sidelines, and a huge share still live at home with their parents.

Those details are well known, but what is less reported is how much Millennial homeownership has fallen in the post-bubble housing market. A recent analysis from Apartment List explores the topic, and has come away with some stark conclusions.

Millennial homeownership on the decline

First, Millennial homeownership has fallen across the board since 2005, in some places by double digits:

Metro 2005 2010 2015 % Change (’05-’15)
Atlanta 44.0% 38.9% 29.9% -14.1%
Boston 33.6% 27.8% 27.6% -6.0%
Chicago 43.4% 36.4% 31.9% -11.5%
Houston 34.7% 34.4% 29.1% -5.6%
Los Angeles 25.1% 20.2% 17.8% -7.3%
Miami 35.4% 29.6% 26.3% -9.2%
New York 27.9% 23.2% 19.8% -8.1%
Philadelphia 43.0% 38.2% 35.8% -7.2%
Phoenix 41.4% 37.0% 30.2% -11.3%
San Francisco 29.7% 23.3% 20.5% -9.2%
Seattle 32.8% 30.2% 29.0% -3.9%

Although there is a clear correlation between housing affordability and Millennial homeownership – the rate in Philadelphia (35.8 percent) is much higher than that in pricey San Francisco (20.5 percent) – rates are still down markedly over the last 10 years, including a pronounced 14.1-percentage-point drop here in Metro Atlanta.

Millennial income on the decline

We’ve reported before about how wages have either stagnated or declined for Millennials, and Apartment List’s analysis shows how Millennial incomes have fallen, as a result:

Metro 2005 2010 2015 % Change (’05-’15)
Atlanta $65,615 $57,806 $60,219 -8.2%
Boston $75,326 $73,935 $78,800 4.6%
Chicago $66,395 $62,069 $63,153 -4.9%
Houston $56,681 $58,633 $61,465 8.4%
Los Angeles $62,894 $61,621 $62,544 -0.6%
Miami $52,295 $49,296 $50,441 -3.5%
New York $68,107 $67,312 $68,743 0.9%
Philadelphia $64,995 $63,147 $65,123 0.2%
Phoenix $58,404 $54,766 $55,547 -4.9%
San Francisco $79,348 $79,377 $88,518 11.6%
Seattle $66,702 $68,574 $75,331 12.9%

One thing is immediately clear, upon examining the above chart – incomes have not fallen for all Millennials, and in places like Houston, San Francisco and Seattle, they have risen strongly.

However, even with those increases, the Millennial homeownership rate has continued to decline, suggesting that other factors have conspired to prohibit Millennials from buying homes.

A Millennial exodus

Finally, with Millennial homeownership on the decline, the assumption would be that many of those individuals are transitioning to renting and remaining within their respective metro areas; unfortunately, Apartment List’s final piece of data, which examines Millennial populations, blows that idea out of the water:

Metro 2005 2010 2015 % Change (’05-’15)
Atlanta 472,409 414,990 402,629 -14.8%
Boston 338,078 341,899 323,623 -4.3%
Chicago 755,609 701,912 654,684 -13.4%
Houston 477,197 485,950 519,812 8.9%
Los Angeles 930,721 846,659 783,629 -15.8%
Miami 348,226 295,421 304,540 -12.5%
New York 1,220,127 1,208,601 1,157,296 -5.1%
Philadelphia 407,797 401,807 372,497 -8.7%
Phoenix 383,617 336,591 327,949 -14.5%
San Francisco 308,887 312,536 306,729 -0.7%
Seattle 299,337 308,481 319,893 6.9%

Consistent with the previous chart, Houston and Seattle are outliers, but even in other markets where wages grew (such as San Francisco) and market with famously affordable housing markets (Phoenix and Atlanta), populations declined.

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