Study: Two-thirds of millennials regret buying a home
Thirty-seven-year-old Marissa Sullivan bought her first house two years ago in Portland.
“You know, I don’t want to sound like it was the worst idea of my life, but…”
But, she definitely has regrets. And so do a lot of her peers. A new study by Bankrate.com says nearly two-thirds of millennials (23 to 38 year olds) regret buying a home. That’s more than any other age group.
“Learning how to say no to brunch, learning how to say no to vacations, that’s definitely where the regret kicks in,” said Sullivan. “Which was something I didn’t have to do before because my rent was so cheap. I’d been able to live a fun lifestyle.”
Bankrate analyst Deborah Kearns says the most common regret is money related.
“We saw that a quarter of them said that it was the unexpected repair and maintenance costs that came with a home that they weren’t anticipating,” Kearns said. “Maybe in the first year or two of home ownership when your furnace goes out or your AC blows, that’s a big up front cost. If you’ve just bought a home, chances are your savings might be slim because you just dumped that into a down payment and closing cost.”
A total of 12 percent of people said they regret buying such a small home, and 8 percent say they picked a bad neighborhood. Seattle’s Jamie Deadmond, 36, regrets moving so close to Highway 99.
“We get a lot of homeless people jumping our fence,” said Deadmond. “We’ve actually had three people try to break in when I had a brand new baby in the house.”
Also, 79 percent of people surveyed for this study consider buying a home to be the epitome of achieving the so-called “American Dream.” Deadmond admits she got a little wrapped up in getting to the next stage of adulthood.
“It was definitely the next step in our lives together. We thought we needed to buy a house if we were going to be in Seattle, especially if the rents were rising like they were. And it just felt like this sense of urgency.”
Sullivan felt similarly.
“Maybe I let ego get in the way a little bit, like, I’m old enough to own something, this is something I should do. Almost like it looks good on paper, you know? I probably wasn’t quite ready but I have been making it work. But it’s not without a lot of stress.”
Sullivan has made it work by renting out her spare bedrooms on Airbnb. But after one too many negative experiences and feeling isolated in the part of town she chose to buy in, she made a big change.
“I didn’t tell you this yet but I actually moved out of my house and I’m Airbnb’ing the whole house, full time, because I’ve had these regrets and these struggles with trying to staying afloat and to have some sort of social life,” Sullivan said. “So that’s sort of the newest chapter in this home owning.”
Despite their eagerness to buy, home ownership seems to go against the core values of millennials. Other studies and surveys have reported that millennials value experiences over stuff. They like to travel, hop from job to job, and move around. Kearns says it’s important to stay in a home for about a decade to reap the benefits.
And through her regret, Marissa acknowledges that the equity will eventually be worth it.
“I know it won’t be this hard forever and it’s only year two and year one of owning a home is definitely the hardest year,” said Sullivan. “Everybody says that. And then you start seeing the market go up and everything starts making sense. Because I know it’s going to pay off. Just because I regret it right now and it’s really hard, I haven’t had a lot of hardship in my life so maybe it’s good for me. But it doesn’t stop me from having regrets.”