Conroy Featured on Marketplace on Millennials and Home Buying

Monday, June 5, 2017TOPICS: Research

Steve Conroy, associate dean for undergraduate programs and professor of economics, was featured on American Public Media's Marketplace in a segment on millennials and home buying

In the segment, Conroy affirms that homes are an important asset and a "handy stand-in for a lot of other economic indicators."

But despite the fact that home ownership is hovering around a 50-year low at 63.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Conroy says: "It's probably too early to be worried about millennials' real estate." 

"Ten years from now, if we're still saying the same thing, then I would be concerned. Because now we would be talking about 27- to 45-year-olds who really should be in the peak of their homeownership years."

Millennials have reasons to be gun-shy, Conroy said. They're saddled with rising student debt, and they witnessed the housing bust first hand. As they've entered the workforce, young adults have so far seemed to value renting's flexibility and staying in cities, close to work.

"If they in the end decide to adopt this new lifestyle, and are not fleeing to the suburbs as their parents or grandparents did ... then we might actually see this change," Conroy said of homeownership rates. "It may not on its face be a negative indicator as long as this is the case, namely that households are investing much more in securities like stocks and bonds."

Conroy said he'd still recommend young people look to buy. For decades, tax benefits for homeowners have been a bipartisan effort and they make houses a unique investment. You can't sleep in your stocks and bonds, and you don't get the same kind of tax breaks from them either.

"A house is a place to put your stuff, but it's also a place where you lay down your head at night," he said. "It's an investment without people really thinking of it as an investment."

Conroy's areas of expertise include applied microeconomics, real estate and housing economics, business ethics, the economics of education and the economics of aging.