NC in Focus: Home ownership among young adults

“The US homeownership rate reached 63.4% in the second quarter of 2015, the lowest level in almost fifty years. The homeownership rate is especially low among millennials, and continues to decline each quarter. There are many factors affecting this trend – rising rents, student loans, and delayed marriages, for example – making it difficult to forecast trends in millennial homeownership….

Our research suggests that affordability is the biggest barrier to homeownership, with 77% of millennials stating that it is the reason why they are unable to purchase a home. In contrast, less than 40% of millennial renters say they are delaying homeownership because they are waiting to settle down or be married. Also, even though most millennials plan on purchasing within the next five years, current saving rates indicate that many are likely to need a decade or more to save enough for a down payment.” – Andrew Woo, The Affordability Crisis: What Happens When Millennials Can’t Afford to Buy Homes?

Home ownership among North Carolina young adults (25-34) has declined steadily over the past 15 years. In the 2000 decennial census, 52% of young adult households were homeowners. This proportion declined to 37% in 2014.

Home ownership rates have declined among NC young adults

These patterns vary significantly across counties, reflecting, in part, geographic differences in relative costs of living and home affordability. The most recent data for all North Carolina counties is from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey. Young adult home ownership rates were highest in Camden County (68.2%) and lowest in Washington County (20.3%).

Young adult home ownership rate varies across NC counties

Young adult home ownership rates were higher among counties that border major metropolitan cores, such as Chatham (62.2%) and Union (60.5%). In contrast, some counties with larger colleges and universities had much lower young adult home ownership rates: 25.1% in Orange and 25.2% in Watauga.

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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