An unbalanced share of housing is owned by baby boomers who are not in a mindset to move on. This situation means there is a lack of supply for millennials who are searching for their first home.
Jake Yanoviak is hunting for houses. On a weekday afternoon in North Philadelphia, the 23-year-old painter cruises along on his bike, its black paint obscured under stickers from breweries and rock bands. He turns onto a side street, where he spots a few elderly neighbors, standing on adjoining porches. He parks, leans on one handlebar and makes his pitch.
“Anybody on the block considering selling?” Yanoviak asks gently. “I’m not a developer, I’m not interested in renting to students. I’m just a kid trying to buy a house, fix it up and live in it.”
“We’re not going no place,” replies a 70-something woman, relaxing in fuzzy white pig slippers in the row house where she’s lived twice as long as Yanoviak has been alive. “All these houses are taken.”
Like much of his generation, Yanoviak is desperate to get a piece of an increasingly scarce commodity: prime American real estate. Millennials are finding themselves out in the cold because building has slowed, and longer-living baby boomers are staying put, setting up a simmering conflict between the two biggest generations in U.S. history.
To succeed, buyers and real estate brokers must show uncommon persistence and, at times, diplomacy. Yanoviak has tried sheriff’s sales, lost two bidding wars, ridden miles on potholed streets and left notes in mailboxes, all to no avail.
People 55 and older own 53 percent of U.S. owner-occupied houses, the biggest share since the government started collecting data in 1900, according to real estate website Trulia. That’s up from 43 percent a decade ago. Those ages 18 to 34 possess just 11 percent. When they were that age, baby boomers had homes at almost twice that level.Read More