59% of Long-Term Renters Say Homeownership Feels Out of Reach

For the majority of long-term renters (59%), homeownership doesn’t feel possible for them, including 41% who say it feels impossible, according to a new survey from NeighborWorks America. As affordability challenges continue in the housing industry, 64% say homeownership doesn’t feel attainable, and 66% say they are surprised by the lack of affordable home options where they live.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds of long-term renters (71%)—or those who have been renting seven years or more—say they’ve had difficulty saving for a down payment, and 74% say the expenses of the home buying process has been surprising to them. Generationally, 51% of baby boomers who have rented long term believe homeownership isn’t attainable for them—the highest share of any generation included in the survey, compared with both 45% Gen X and millennials who say homeownership isn’t attainable.

“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,” says NeighborWorks America president and 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 survey found that younger millennials and Gen Z are taking advantage of home buying resources at a higher rate than Gen X and baby boomers, with 72% of baby boomers using no resources to become homeowners. Millennials and Gen Z homeowners are two to six times more likely than Gen X and baby boomers to have used assistance or home buying programs to purchase their homes, the survey finds. These included mortgage assistance, financial planning coaching/resources, first-time home buyer programs, credit-building resources, and home buying resources in their community.

Of the share of long-term renters, 63% say it would be easier to transition from renting to homeownership if they knew more about different kinds of mortgage options. Additionally, 62% say down payment assistance programs would make it more attainable as well as first-time home buyer programs at 59% and financial planning/coaching resources at 55%.

Forty-five percent of long-term renters say they lack financial planning resources, and 46% are worried about credit card debt impacting their ability to buy a home. Connected to nearly 250 nonprofits in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, NeighborWorks offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation’s leading trainer of housing and community development professionals.

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