If you have an adult child who’s financially stable but not exactly settled, you might want to consider the results of a new study about millennials and the obstacles keeping them from home ownership. In the country as a whole, prices are high and inventory is low, making life tough for buyers of all demographics, but particularly first-time buyers who are 23 to 38 years old. The new study from Bankrate sheds light on the factors that are keeping young Americans from the dream of homeownership.

Living costs are more likely to hobble millennials. The study, which surveyed more than 2,500 adults, asked respondents across three age groups to name their biggest obstacle to buying a home. A little more than half of millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers claimed that they earned too little income. Millennials, however, were much more likely than the other two demographics to cite the cost of living as a significant barrier. Discuss with your adult child that even though people of all ages feel they don’t have enough money, if he/she feels that this is a barrier to owning a home, perhaps it’s time to cut back on some amenities to save money.

Millennials expect—correctly—that it will take them longer to save. The study found that although millennials are the most likely to be actively saving money for down payments, they are also more likely to envision a longer road to getting there than the older survey respondents—and they’re right in that prediction. The average millennial respondent requires a full three years to save for a down payment, which is three months more than Gen Xers and six months more than baby boomers. That might have something to do with student debt, which millennial respondents were much more likely to cite as a barrier to homeownership. Even so, consider reminding your young adult that the longer he waits, the harder it gets. Millennials do remain optimistic, though. The study indicated that 37% of Gen Xers and a full 60% of baby boomers believe they’d never be able to save enough to buy a home, compared with just 27% of millennials.

Help your children help themselves. The study’s authors offered a few ideas that could help you distill the study results into something useful. Consider offering the following advice to your adult child when having a discussion about buying a home. And remember, when talking to a young adult, don’t assume the basics are common knowledge—more than half of US adults don’t know the minimum percentage of a home loan needed for a down payment. 

  • Have him tally up his debt and check both his credit report and credit score before doing anything else.
  • Suggest that he open a dedicated savings account just for home-buying expenses.
  • Ask him to determine a budget, which is the amount he can afford, not the amount a lender greenlights him to borrow.
  • Help him research different kinds of loan programs—FHA, VA, USDA, conventional—and pick the one that’s best.
  • Tell him to think about enrolling in housing counseling, which he can find for free through a variety of programs. 

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