Survey: Homeownership Remains Elusive for Baby Boomer Renters

A new survey from NeighborWorks America has found that homeownership feels out of reach for a majority of long-term renters, especially for baby boomers.

According to the survey, three-in-five long-term renters (59%)—or those who have been renting seven years or more—feel homeownership is out of reach, including 41% who say it doesn’t feel possible at all. A majority (51%) of baby boomers who are long-term renters strongly agree that homeownership isn’t attainable for them, compared to 45% of both Generation X and millennials. Additionally, millennials and Generation Z homeowners are two to six times more likely than Generation X and baby boomers to have used various kinds of assistance or programs to purchase their homes, such as mortgage assistance; financial planning coaching/resources; first-time homebuyer programs; credit-building resources; and homebuying resources in their community.

The survey found that 72% of baby boomers (72%) have not utilized the resources designed to help them become homeowners—a significant share more than any other generation.

“By 2030, all baby boomers will be age 65 or older. Whether they’re interested in homeownership or not, they need access to the services and programs that can help them age in place,” said NeighborWorks America’s President & CEO Marietta Rodriguez. “How can this generational shift not have drastic implications for housing? Our homes should age with us, but what options are there for long-term renters? How do we ensure the safety and stability of this population for years to come?”

The NeighborWorks’ survey on housing affordability spotlights a need for homebuying resources to help renters see that homeownership is still possible. A majority of long-term renters (55%) say there’s a lack of loan assistance programs available to them, while 48% also report a lack of first-time homebuyer programs. Finding resources to help manage overall financial health, including credit card debt—with delinquencies at the highest rate in a decade—were also reported as a challenge. Forty-six percent of long-term renters were worried about credit card debt impacting their ability to buy a home, and 45% said they lack financial planning resources.

NeighborWorks offered survey respondent a number of solutions experiencing homebuying difficulties a number of options, including:

  • Housing counseling: Counseling can help people find affordable homes, overcome financial barriers and access opportunities including down payment assistance programs. Counselors also work with clients to make sure homeownership is sustainable over the long term.
  • Financial coaching: Financial health is building security to be able to respond to life’s challenges and opportunities, and remain in a stable situation. NeighborWorks network organizations like NeighborGood Partners, Trellis, and Metro Community Development can provide financial coaching that assists individuals in building and improving their credit, and reaching their goal of homeownership.
  • Home preservation: NeighborWorks network organizations like New Directions can help people age in place, preserve intergenerational wealth and provide security for families. The number of preserved homeownership clients NeighborWorks America served through its network increased by 33% from 9,056 to 12,025 between fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2023.

The NeighborWorks survey was conducted by Morning Consult from January 20-21, 2024, among a sample of 2,204 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

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Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief for National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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