Millennials constantly have their behavior scrutinized for trends around everything from dating to eating to bachelorette-party spending—mostly because statistics about the group often show a departure from older generations’ behavior. The latest frontier in millennial trends is homeownership.
Surveys of prospective first-time homeowners from ages 18 to 36 showed that 33 percent were looking to buy a home in preparation for getting a dog. That’s right: not because of marriage or babies, but rather their furry BFF.
This was not the top reason, though; 66 percent wanted more space, and 36 percent saw homeownership as an opportunity to build equity. Marriage and expected birth of a child clocked in lower than dog ownership, at 25 percent and 19 percent respectively. Fur babies for the win!
“Millennials have strong bonds with their dogs, so it makes sense that their furry family members are driving home-buying decisions,” says Dorinda Smith, mortgage president at SunTrust Banks, which commissioned the survey. “For those with dogs, renting can be more expensive and a hassle; homeownership takes some of the stress off by providing a better living situation.”
This analysis defies the assumption that millennials are less motivated by practicality than previous generations, though the group also differs in its behavior around marriage. More people are getting married later these days: A study at Franklin B. Olin College of Engineering found that for those born in the 1990s, 88 percent of men and 81 percent of women are unmarried at 23. This is compared with 66 percent and 25 percent of those born in the 1940s.
Those findings may also impact cohabitation figures going forward. Barna research found that 72 percent of millennials believed it was a good idea to live with someone before marriage, compared with just 36 percent of adults 70 and older. While Zillow reported that 37 percent of married couples and 15 percent of unmarried couples bought a home, shifting opinions on cohabitation may influence those numbers in the future.
At the same time, though, millennials as a demographic have put off marriage more than previous generations, in favor of educational and professional pursuits. First American Financial Corporation data showed that the homeownership rate is higher for married couples than nonmarried couples. Further analysis predicted that as millennials age, they will marry and pursue homeownership.
Regardless of motivation—be it dogs or marriage or more space—millennial homeownership rates are increasing more than for any other age group. Census Bureau data showed that American households with residents under the age of 35 increased by a full percentage point in the second quarter of 2017. This is even more impactful considering that millennials make up the largest share of all buyers today: 42 percent, according to Zillow's Consumer Housing Trend Report.
Although millennial attitudes toward marriage, cohabitation, and other major life decisions may be different than in other generations, data shows that millennials are just as practical—and in some ways more traditional—than previous generations.