The opinions stated in this column are solely those of the author and not of The Davis County Clipper.
Indeed, Mr. Dylan, the times are “a-changing.” A neighbor cites a report that at least one in five teenagers couldn’t care less about getting a driver’s license. His son is one of them. “Gee, when I was his age, I couldn’t wait to have a car,” he said. “My son sees driving as an expensive hassle.”
Then last week a Bloomberg News story noted that a growing number of young Millennial-generation professionals are not too enthused about owning a home. First-time buyers have fallen for the third straight month and a percentage of Americans owning a home (65%) has dropped for nine straight years.
Moreover, only 52% of those born in the early 1980s believe that homeownership is an “excellent long-term investment.”
As Mr. Dylan sang in a lesser known song, “Something’s happening here and you don’t know what it is!”
I suppose young people are gun-shy about economic downturns. They have seen a recent one and they’ve seen or heard of families who lost their homes. One can be cynical and say that this generation cares more about buying a $6 Starbucks latte than it does about a long-term commitment, but even critics have to admit it’s more convenient to demand the landlord fix the air conditioning unit than to be confronted with a $2,000 bill for a new system.
It may be one thing to criticize the young “mushrooms” who live in the family basement. However, I can understand the working 20-something who prefers to rent an urban apartment rather than sign a 30-year mortgage.
My Baby Boomer generation had a different outlook. We were presented a roadmap to success: go to college, sign on with a good company, buy a home, sock away funds in a financial plan and, with good Social Security and company pensions, retirement included a Winnebago for some and a tropical island for others.
This scenario is in doubt for younger adults. Their jobs may demand frequent moves. Affordable homes may mean long work commutes on clogged highways. The opportunity to have a relaxing “happy hour” dinner at a nearby bistro may seem more appealing than arriving home to mow the lawn.
Of course, young people should also understand the tax advantages of buying rather than renting, and they should also be aware that historically real estate has been the leading path to wealth. A mortgage burning is still an event to be celebrated.
But if a mortgage holds you back from doing what you really want to do, there is nothing wrong in delaying the long-term home purchase. Since I’m not a real estate agent or mortgage broker, I can sympathize with the growing number of young Americans thinking outside the box when it comes to home, and even car, ownership.
A decent transit system, a good set of bicycle wheels or a short walk to work are all factors in quality of life just as much as possessing a three-bedroom home in the newest subdivision.