Judging by headlines found across the media, millennials spend their days plotting the demise of American cheese, mayonnaise, divorce and just about every other service, product and institution defining life in America. But according to a new study released by Bank of America, this generation still pines for home ownership, with 72% of millennials (defined here as anyone born between 1978 and 1995) placing it as a financial priority ahead of getting married, having children, or traveling the world.
The only other life event millennials prioritize more than purchasing a home is retiring, which suggests the future could be filled with elderly, single millennials puttering around their cavernous homes while shedding lonely tears into slices of avocado toast. Additional data from the survey hints at why millennials place such a premium on home ownership—it makes them feel successful, regardless of whether it's a good financial decision. Out of the millennials surveyed, more than half (53%) equated having a home with personal success while only 45% said it was a sign of financial success. It's worth noting that a report on millennial homebuyers released by Bank of the West earlier this summer showed 68% of millennials regretted the purchase for a litany of reasons, a larger share than homebuyers of other generations.
A look at how expensive home ownership, weddings and child-rearing have become lately—all the traditional milestones of becoming a full-fledged adult—and it's no wonder millennials feel the need to pick and choose which life event to tackle first.
From a purely personal financial standpoint, focusing on having enough money to retire and owning a house makes sense but single homebuyers may find securing a mortgage more difficult than if they had gotten hitched. When you go to a mortgage lender (usually, but not always, a bank) and ask to take out a mortgage, the first thing the lender does is take a look at your credit score as well as your income and assets to determine whether you qualify for the loan and what interest rate they will charge you. Having a joint application with a spouse combines your income and, unless your better half has nothing to bring to the table financially, should qualify you for a larger loan.