Are Housing Laws Causing Depression in Millennials?
Coming home from a long day of work, weighed down by a half eaten lunch, an overstuffed briefcase and an empty coffee cup you step out of your reasonably priced midsize car. Place your foot down on top of your freshly paved drive way, down your manicured walkway cutting through your green grass and up to your front door. Take out your keys, letting the sound alert your dog waiting to greet you with warmth and sloppy doggie kisses.
That was the treatment my team created for a Super Bowl Ad around the theme “coming home.” It was a commercial that tried to embody the feeling of being a homeowner. That peace knowing that whatever happened outside your home; working overtime, letting your health go to shit, or sacrificing that sports car for something predictable is all worth it because YOU are a master of your domain, queen of land, king of your castle.
But that’s simply not reality for most millennials. According to the National Association of Realtors, 80% of millennials blame student loans for not being able to purchase a house. About 52% of millennials also can't qualify for a mortgage due to their debt-to-income ratio, Marketwatch reported. We aren’t participating in this story the same way generations before us has. It’s true the job market is improving and more millennials are pursuing work through the gig economy, meaning working several part time jobs on a flexible schedule. These small improvements have yet to curve statistics showing that for the most part millennials are not homeowners. Urban Institute reports that 37% of millennials own homes in 2015 – a full eight percentage points lower than Generation X and baby boomers at the same age.
Some say millennials inability to participate in America Dream is part of many reasons why this generation has higher than average struggles with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Jason Lahart of the Wall Street Journal recently reported that “More than a decade has passed since the financial crisis hit, yet the housing market remains in a deep funk.” He says millennials are at the age where they SHOULD be buying homes but cultural norms may have changes so much that they will never pursue homeowners. It’s my observation that this could be due to a shift in values.
Millennials watched there families fall into poverty during the Great Recession. Many middle class families found themselves under crushing debt due to mortgages and students loans. For that reason millennials are apprehensive about homeownership. Many do not associate homeownership with stability. Instead those feelings are replaced with doubt and suspicion. Not to mention many of those same millennials do not value stability over flexibility.
In the last couple of years homes haring services have been on the rise. Platforms like Airbnb get behind millennial values. Unfortunately more and more housing laws prohibit homeowners from fully participating in such business models.
If I had to rewrite that Super Bowl Ad today to appeal to millennials, I’d have that same homeowner coming back from a work retreat, carrying his or her phone, looking at a deposit from tenants who used such a platform.
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