Boomers To Shape Housing Market For Next Two Decades.
When it comes to the swooning housing market, sometimes it seems only
a knight in shining armor can save it, and according to some experts,
that salvation could come in the form of the so-called echo boomer
About 62 million strong, echo boomers—Americans roughly between the
ages of 17 and 31—will shape the next two decades of the housing
market, according to the National Association of Realtors, noting that
young homebuyers already make up 31 percent of all recent home
"Clearly it's a significant demographic group," says Charlie Young,
president and CEO of ERA Real Estate. "With about 5 million turning 21
every year, they're going to be driving the first-time homebuyer market
for years to come."
"I believe the market will be fueled by the coming of age of this generation," he adds.
But rescuing the ailing housing market is a tall order for a group that's been faced with mounting student loan
debt and dwindling employment opportunities. Younger Americans still
face relatively high unemployment rates and many have been forced to
move in with family, cutting off what was once a deep well of housing
"People who have high student [loan] debt and people who are in an
underemployed situation, they will not have an easy time becoming a
homeowner," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.
Still, Yun says the tight financial situation many echo boomers face
today won't last forever. In the short term, factors such as rates and the job market will drive the level of activity in the housing market, he says.
"I expect the U.S. economy and the unemployment rate to return back
to historical norms within a few years," he says. "And the thing with
student debt loads is that as long as people have jobs they can pay that
off, so it's really about the job creation."
In the meantime, most echo boomers will rent until their
stabilizes, but that doesn't suggest a long-term, fundamental change
in the way Americans view homeownership, experts say. On the contrary,
poll after poll reports that most Americans still have homeownership as
a financial and life goal.
"Homeownership is a key part of America's social fabric and it will
continue to be," Young says. "Not many people grow up to say, 'I want
to rent my home.' I don't expect over the long haul there to be any
substantial change in buying patterns."