There’s an old ‘common-sense’ nugget of financial advice:
”Poor people buy nice cars; rich people buy nice houses.
Buy the best house you can but drive the least expensive car.”
That phrase could be reframed in the language of economics as this:
“Invest more into appreciating assets (like a home) and
less into depreciating assets (like a car).”
And this seems to be at least somewhat true in that a new study published by USA Today found that the Ford F-150 was the most popular vehicle among those earning more than $200,000 a year!
The range of data currently available seems to indicate that Millennials– @age 25-34 currently– are either not getting this message, or aren’t believing it: Millennial homeownership in the United States is at a record low.
25-34 has historically been a prime time for purchasing a first home. And with the number of Millennials entering this age group, many housing economists are bullish on demand.
But it’s been slow going: Millennials were so slow to become homeowners that it was starting to look like they would be renting forever. But a surprising trend has begun to spike: Millennials are becoming a force in the market for high-end luxury homes.
Toll Brothers Inc. is the largest U.S. luxury-home builder. They stated in August 2017 that 23 percent of their U.S. sales so far this year were to customers with at least one buyer age 35 or younger. This is quite a surprising statistic, considering that the average contract price for a home over May-June-July 2017 was a whopping $837,300.
There have been some good reasons why younger buyers have been slow to purchase. They’re marrying and having children later in life. They have college loans to pay off. The housing market has had bust and boom time in their near memory, and right now it’s a tight existing-home market, where in many markets sellers get multiple offers and bidding wars break out.
But that delay has allowed some Millennials the opportunity to sock away a nice down payment—and they’re applying it to some really nice houses.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised,” said Fred Cooper, senior vice president of investor relations at Toll Brothers. “These people, (now with) 10 years of work under their belts, can afford a first home that is more luxurious than what one thinks of as the typical starter home.”
It’s true that homeownership by younger people is still low when compared to historic standards. 18-34 year olds today have about 11% of owner-occupied houses in the U.S., while their Baby Boomer counterparts owned almost twice that percentage back when they were the same ages.
Perhaps most surprising is the fact that though Toll Brothers has introduced a lower-priced “T Select” brand–targeted towards younger buyers—Millennials are mostly purchasing Toll’s other homes.
Chief Executive Officer Douglas Yearley reviewed the data on an August 2017 conference call with analysts:
“We are committed to sell homes to the leading, more-affluent edge of the Millennials because we’re not going to wait for them to buy their second or third move-up house, which in a decade, they will obviously be doing.”
Megan McGrath, an analyst at MKM Holdings LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said, “Part of it is generational — Millennials didn’t feel the need to buy a starter home, and maybe couldn’t and they waited until they were in their 30s… maybe now they’re just skipping over the starter home and buying a higher-priced alternative.”
Successful financial growth often means deferring immediate satisfaction. Money is saved so that it can grow, and lead to more wealth. The idea is to defer the immediate pleasure of a smaller, less important good in order to be able to afford something much nicer in the future.
That means quality: Quality of construction; quality of furnishings; quality of the things that matter, and those that last over time. Investors look for something that pays off every time with greater enjoyment than a lesser-made equivalent.
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