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A growing number of young Americans are making big financial commitments in real estate, MarketWatch staffer Maria Lamanga reports.

More than 99,000 Americans born in 1995 and after own a home, according to the credit agency TransUnion. On average, they carry a mortgage balance of $140,000.

“I’m a little surprised to see the numbers as large as they are,” said Rob Dietz, chief economist and senior vice president for economics and housing policy for the National Association of Home Builders. “The traditional life cycle is to rent, especially for younger consumers who might have student loans.”

Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions, says members of Generation Z (those born in 1995 and after) are further removed from the housing crisis and may not be as afraid of home ownership as members of older generations.

Members of Generation Z are also entering a more stable housing market, unlike their older siblings in the millennial generation, said Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist at Zillow. That has happened at the same time that renting has become less affordable and interest rates on mortgages are still relatively low, he said.

It’s also possible members of Generation Z are getting some help, Terrazas said. “The earliest home buyers tend to get family assistance,” he said. “Families see it as a worthwhile investment as well.”

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