American Dream: 68% of Millennial Homeowners Regret Buying a Home


A Bank of the West study finds that 68% of millennials regret buying a home.

Please consider the polling results of a Study on the American Dream.

What Best Describes Your Views?

Key Findings

  • 3% of Millennial live the American Dream.
  • 16% of Boomers live the American Dream.
  • 25% have abandoned the American Dream.
  • 11% overall (13% of Millennials) never believed in the American Dream in the first place.
  • 52% (54% of Millennials) believe the American Dream is possible.

Top Ingredients of the American Dream

Key Findings

  1. 56% of Millennials prioritize home ownership vs 68% of Baby Boomers.
  2. 49% of Millennials prioritize retiring comfortably vs 73% of Baby Boomers.
  3. 41% of Millennials prioritize having children vs 36% of Baby Boomers.
  4. 38% of Millennials prioritize car ownership vs 42% of Baby Boomers.

Point two is bound to change as Millennials get closer to retirement.

Points 1 and 4 are secular changes making the Fed's attempt to inflate much more difficult.

Point 3 is peculiar and likely subject to interpretation error.

The ability of Baby Boomers to have kids at this point is very restricted. The same applies to the question about getting married.

Motivators to Buy a Home (Non-Homeowners)

Only 8% of millennials have no interest in buying a home compared to 46% or boomers.

This is despite the fact that 56% of Millennials vs 68% of Baby Boomers prioritize home ownership.

Home Ownership Plans

Key Findings

  • 29% of Millennials who purchased a home dipped into retirement income.
  • 19% of Millennials who plan to purchase a home expect to dip into retirement income.

If they are forced to sell for any reason and have a loss they have a bad tax consequence.


Reason for Regrets

A whopping 68% of millennials who bought a home now have regrets. Only 35% of Baby Boomers have regrets.

The latter statistic is likely skewed to the downside.


Many Baby Boomers lost their homes in the Great Recession. I suspect most of them have regrets but were not sampled in the survey.

Also, many boomers who may have regretted their purchase a short while ago have no been bailed out by the Fed. There has been few comparably few bailout of Millennials.

Attitudes on Debt

This is a poor set of questions, especially the way two answers are lumped together.

Key Finding (Derived from 2nd Question)

  • 68% of boomers are not comfortable carrying debt.
  • 56% of Millennials are not comfortable carrying debt.

The second question suggests boomers have learned something that Millennials haven't.

But we do not have breakdowns and the question is subject to interpretation errors.

Possible Interpretation Errors

  • Does credit card debt paid off every month constitute debt?
  • Is a car loan debt?
  • Might some respondents view mortgage debt as debt and others not?

If the answers to those questions are random, it might not matter. But Boomers might easily think differently about those questions than Millennials and thus answer differently as a group.

Either way, it would have been far better had the survey not lumped two answers together.

Investment Horizon

Safe Investing Question

Financial Crisis Question

Despite Millennials saying time allows them to be more aggressive, it appears they haven't done so.

But what does "aggressive" mean.

Might it mean one thing to Boomers and another to Millennials?

At this stage in the bubble, even passive index funds might easily be considered "aggressive".

Investment Vehicle Question

Biased Interpretation

Here the question is perfectly valid.

The study's interpretation of the answer is as biased as can be.

The study comments "This reluctance to invest is demonstrated by Millennials’ underutilization of investing accounts that could help them build wealth for retirement."

What a crock.

Boomers most often worked for companies that had retirement plans. Millennials can not say the same thing, at least to the same degree.

Millennials also have a need to pay down student debt. Few Boomers do.

Not investing means "no money" and/or "no corporate plans" as opposed to "reluctance".

Men vs Women Investing Confidence

This one is quite interesting. But it is missing Bitcoin.


  • 69% of men confident about private equity? Really?
  • 64% of men confident of futures? Really?
  • 56% men confident on derivatives? Really?

Are men simply more confident than women about everything? Or do they just claim to be?

I suspect the latter.

California vs Rest of US


Despite some poor questions and biased interpretations of some answers, this was an enjoyable and informative poll on the attitudes of Millennials vs Baby Boomers.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (31)
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We bought our first house in Pasadena, California in 1970 for $26,500. Both of us were working at decent jobs and we barely squeaked in qualifying for a loan. The same house sold recently for $840,000. That's 7% annual appreciation. If we were starting out today, there's no chance we could buy this same home in a decent, middle class Pasadena neighborhood, even without our piece of the gargantuan $1.6 Trillion college debt hanging around our necks.

Californians rebelled against property taxes in 1977 by passing prop 13. However, total property taxes per year at the state level have also continued to go up at the rate of 7% per year due to reassessment after sale to a new owner.

Finally, 2banana is absolutely correct, the upkeep of a home has continued to ratchet upwards. If you can't do your own upkeep, you're in a world of hurt. It's a couple hundred bucks labor now just to get a stranger to swap out a busted water heater.



Excellent comments by everyone here: 2Banana, Thimk, Abend, Country Bob, Herkie

We finally found something we can all agree on


I'm surprised "Earning a 4-yr college degree" was not one of the criteria of achieving the American dream.


There are few young couples that recently bought in my neighborhood. A few things I've noticed. They have no clue how to fix anything. They've asked my advice. For some things, I tell them they can fix it pretty easily. The husband is listening while the wife gleans at us. She clearly wants to hire a professional. And it's pretty clear who the breadwinner of the family is and who wears the pants.

They have gym memberships and they hire firms to cut their grass. They like to buy hybrid and electric vehicles. And they also like to have outdoor cookouts. My neighborhood always smells like charcoal. They sit outside staring at their phones while the grill spews smoke all over them.


"This reluctance to invest is demonstrated by Millennials’ underutilization of investing accounts that could help them build wealth for retirement."

A 75% Nasdaq crash does not promote investment. 50% and 57% crashes in the S&P 500 do not promote investment. Choking on student loans does not promote investing in something one does not have money to invest in.


I bought a house because I wanted to pay it off and never have to rent. I paid mine off after 12 years. The monthly savings allowed me to pay off everything else within a year. Without debt, I could care less if I get fired at my job. Since I could care less, I'm free to always do the right thing at work. Since I always do the right thing, I keep getting promotions and more money.

Of course I don't live in California, Chicago or New Jersey. I bought my house at 1.5 times yearly earnings and put 20% down. My property taxes and insurance amount to $175/month.

Oh, and you have to learn how to fix stuff around your house. Turns out, none of it is rocket science. YouTube is your best friend.


Its funny reading these comments about America. You could be talking about Australia and many of the comments would be almost identical.

Over here I see the housing market as hollowing out the economy. I know many prominent economists would say I'm wrong and that my experiences are purely anecdotal but from the people I mix with, discretionary spending is way way down due to mortgage stress and utility prices which always seem to be rising even as headline inflationary figures remain static or even decrease.

I think its only a matter of time before before a housing induced slowdown catches up with retail (its already begun) and we see malls around the country beginning to close as they have in the US. I think it would have happened except that that Australian population is so highly concentrated in urban areas that they've been protected in a way that their counterparts in the US were not.

On a purely personal note I worked as a concrete labourer of recent times doing residential construction. Its obvious that many first home owners are building places which are vastly too large and that land prices are frequently ridiculous. But I guess if they don't build McMansion's then the banks don't approve their loans.


Most millenials would presumably have bought after the 2008 crash. Surprising that they're not happier about catching the bubble reinflation.