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Perspectives Blog

Young-Adult Housing Demand Continues to Slide

September 30, 2014

Patrick Simmons
Director, Strategic
Planning, Economic &
Strategic Research

The Great Recession and housing bust hit young adults hard. The unemployment rate for 25-34 year-olds more than doubled between 2007 and 2010, and real median household income for this group fell by nearly 10 percent during the downturn. As economic conditions deteriorated, young-adult household formation and homeownership fell sharply. In recent years, however, young Americans’ economic circumstances have begun to brighten, with the unemployment rate for 25-34 year olds dropping and their income stabilizing.

This new edition of Housing Insights from Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group analyzes data from the Census Bureau's newly released 2013 American Community Survey (ACS), which shows that two key metrics of housing demand – the headship rate1 and homeownership rate – continue to decline for young adults, despite their recent economic gains. However, the ACS data also bring some good news. In particular, the rate of housing cost burdens among young owner-occupants continues to plummet. In 2013, fewer than one in four young homeowners spent more than 30 percent of household income on housing expenses, a rate that is not only 13 percentage points below the 2007 peak, but also significantly lower than in 2000, prior to the mortgage credit bubble. 

The continued slide in household formation and homeownership among young adults suggests that more robust labor market improvements, among other factors, are needed for young Americans to get a stronger foothold in the housing market. The large decline in homeowner affordability problems among young adults indicates that substantial housing market changes in the wake of the housing bust have created a generation of young homeowners who have housing costs that are much better aligned with incomes.

To learn more about these findings, read our latest Housing Insights.

1 The headship rate, a commonly used metric of household formation, is the proportion of the population in a given age group that is a householder, i.e., the person, or one of the persons, in whose name a housing unit is owned, being bought, or rented.

Patrick Simmons
Director, Strategic Planning
Economic & Strategic Research Group

September 30, 2014

The author thanks Orawin Velz, Gerry Flood, and Doug Duncan for valuable comments in the creation of this commentary. Of course, all errors and omissions remain the responsibility of the author.

Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views of Fannie Mae's Economic and Strategic Research (ESR) group included in this commentary should not be construed as indicating Fannie Mae's business prospects or expected results, are based on a number of assumptions, and are subject to change without notice. How this information affects Fannie Mae will depend on many factors. Although the ESR group bases its opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views on information it considers reliable, it does not guarantee that the information provided in these materials is accurate, current, or suitable for any particular purpose. Changes in the assumptions or the information underlying these views could produce materially different results. The analyses, opinions, estimates, forecasts, and other views published by the ESR group represent the views of that group as of the date indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of Fannie Mae or its management.