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September 2017

Millennials stymied in search for homes as boomers resist selling

Public policy, inter-generational tension, a building slowdown, zoning rules, and even "delicate questions of race and class" are contributing to the squeeze millennials are experiencing in their quest for homeownership.

Real estate writer Prashant Gopal, with Bloomberg News, cited those factors in a report on baby boomers' refusal to sell.

In his report, Gopal followed a 23-year old painter-carpenter in North Philadelphia who armed himself with "Dear Homeowner" letters as he bicycled around various neighborhoods explaining his futile, year-long search to buy a home. "The young house-hunter, a college graduate who lives with his parents, has tried sheriff's sales, lost two bidding wars, ridden miles on pot-holed streets, and left notes in mailboxes, all to no avail," wrote Gopal.

Gopal notes the rate of homeownership among the 18-to-34-year-old cohort is half what baby boomers owned when they were that age. People 55 and older own 53 percent of U.S. owner-occupied houses, which compares to 43 percent a decade ago, according to data from Trulia. It's the biggest share since the government started collecting data in 1900.

With longer-living baby boomers staying put and homebuilders not keeping pace with demand, the younger generation's dreams of homeownership are unfulfilled. "To succeed, buyers and real estate brokers must show uncommon persistence and, at times, diplomacy," the reporter suggested.