Some millennials in metro Atlanta say they'll ‘always be renters'

Some millennials in metro Atlanta say they'll ‘always be renters'

Now Renting sign

In metro Atlanta, some millennial renters say they’ve accepted the fact that they will never be homeowners.

According to a new study from Apartment List, about 6% of millennial renters in Atlanta say they will “always be renters.” However, in many other major metro areas, that percentage is even higher.

Nationally, slightly more than 12% of millennials say they expect to always be renters, which is up from 10% of respondents who said the same in last year’s report.

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San Jose, Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Portland had the highest percentage of millennials who says they expect to be renters for life — all with more than 15% of current millennial renters.

But wanting to buy a house doesn’t appear to the problem. According to the findings, while some millennials say they intend on continuing to rent by choice, because of financial benefits, many others say they would buy if they could.

So why aren’t millennials buying homes? Concerns over affordability and feeling burdened by student loan debt rank among the top reasons, the report finds.“

Among millennial renters who plan to own a home, 70% are waiting because they cannot afford to buy, compared to just 33% to say they are not ready to settle into a more permanent lifestyle,” according to the report.

A separate report earlier this year found that Atlanta ranks in the bottom third of cities on home affordability. But still, in Atlanta, the typical homeowner pays 37.9% of their income toward mortgage and taxes — or about $1,636 per month. The average home price in Atlanta is around $330,000.

Racial Divide

Among millennials who reported wanting to buy a house, 60% said the biggest obstacle in doing so is the down payment. However, the concerns are not the same across races.

The report notes that “barriers to homeownership disproportionately affect certain minorities.”

For example, the report found that white and Asian millennials are most likely to be concerned about having enough cash for a down payment, while black and Hispanic millennials are disproportionately more likely to be concerned about poor credit affecting their ability to buy.

However, regardless of race, the data shows millennials have good reason to be concerned about being able to doll out a down payment. “Putting money down can be the single most expensive moment in the home-buying process,” the report reads. “In 2019, millennial renters made little progress towards saving for this important first step.”

Nearly half of millennials who say they’d like to buy a home someday have no savings set aside for a down payment, but 12.9% say they have more than $10,000 saved.

The percentage of millennials who say they expect their families to be able to help them put money toward a down payment is down year over year.

And even those who do expect help from a family member tend to be millennials who already earn more than $100,000, which shows further disparity in home buying.

“This trend highlights the disproportionate, cyclical effect of generational wealth: poorer millennials who cannot afford to buy a home today may have more trouble building wealth in the long run, may be incapable of providing financial assistance to their children, and so forth,” according to the report.

Barring some significant turn in the market, the report concludes it remains unlikely that millennial home-ownership numbers will meet the pace of previous generations.