- Real-estate investors are purchasing 20% of the starter homes on the market, reported Ben Casselman and Conor Dougherty for The New York Times.
- They’re outbidding other buyers by paying in cash, and some are buying houses before they’ve even been put on the public market.
- It’s tough competition for millennials, who already struggle with buying their first home because of high housing prices and a shortage of starter homes.
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The US housing market is currently a seller’s market — this causes home prices to shoot up, leaving minimal inventory at the middle and low ends, Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, previously told Business Insider. But there are other factors driving the shortage, too: rising construction costs, restrictive zoning rules, and changing consumer desires, reported Ben Casselman and Conor Dougherty for The New York Times.
That spells bad news for millennials — who are already financially behind because of a higher cost of living, student loan debt, and a fallout from the recession — looking to buy their first home. And real-estate investors are only making the problem worse.
In 2018, investors bought roughly 20% of US starter homes (homes priced in the bottom third of the local market) — twice that of 20 years ago, Casselman and Dougherty wrote, citing real-estate data provider CoreLogic. In the most popular markets, they bought nearly 50% of the most affordable homes and 25% of all single-family homes.
Some investors flip the houses, others rent the houses out, and some resell the houses when they appreciate, which could take weeks or years, they reported. A growing number of hard-money lenders are helping their endeavors, and "in some cases, wholesalers make unsolicited offers on properties, then flip them to investors without putting them on the public market," Casselman and Dougherty wrote.
Millennials face another challenge on the track to homeownership
The investors are tough competition for millennials, who are losing territory in the battleground of starter homes that they already can’t afford.
Millennials buying their first home today will pay 39% more today than they would have nearly 40 years ago, according to Student Loan Hero. A report by SmartAsset found that in some cities, the median home outweighed the median income by so much that it could take nearly a decade to save for a 20% down payment.
And some of those who have saved enough to buy are forced to wait — and up their budgets — as they continuously lose out on potential homes to the cash-paying investors.
Fatou Ceesay, age 38, told Casselman and Dougherty she’s spent two years losing bids to cash buyers. Some sellers are requiring cash, while some listings quickly disappear only to pop up again several weeks later at a higher price, she said. She’s since increased her budget from $300,000 to $350,000.
Millennials’ inability to get their hands on their first home in the face of tough economic conditions and a cutthroat market is creating new trends.
For one, thing, as Business Insider previously reported, millennials are resorting to renting for a longer time. Some unmarried millennial couples are buying homes together before getting engaged just so they can split the cost of buying a home. And others are delaying homeownership so long that by the time they do buy, they’ve saved enough money to buy a luxury home, bypassing the starter home stage altogether.
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