Architecture & Real Estate | June 16, 2019 12:05 pm

Defying Expectations, Numerous Millennials Own Multiple Homes

A new report challenges expectations while raising concern about inequality

A new report defies generational stereotypes while raising questions of inequality.
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Odds are good that you’ve seen some variation lately on an enduring theme: a post or article criticizing millennials for not saving enough to achieve some financial milestone, followed by an obligatory joke about avocado toast. But that conventional wisdom may be changing: a new report suggests that a number of millennials are, in fact, homeowners multiple times over.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the data indicates that, as Refinery29’s article puts it, “a growing property wealth gap seems to be emerging among millennials.”

The report, from the Resolution Foundation, does suggest that millennials have bought homes at a lower rate than Baby Boomers. But another wrinkle introduces questions of inequality into the mix: namely, “the report also found that people born in the 1980s who are on the property ladder are just as likely as the older generation to own multiple homes.”

It’s an unsettling piece of information that, unfortunately, makes more sense the longer you think about it. A 2017 New York Times Magazine article by Matthew Desmond explored some of the underlying causes of this: essentially, the American tax code rewards homeownership, and does so in a way that exacerbates inequality. As Desmond puts it:

Yet America’s national housing policy gives affluent homeowners large benefits; middle-class homeowners, smaller benefits; and most renters, who are disproportionately poor, nothing. It is difficult to think of another social policy that more successfully multiplies America’s inequality in such a sweeping fashion.

The Resolution Foundation’s report makes for a welcome debunking of certain generational stereotypes. But the concerns it raises about inequality are very real — and well worth a deeper exploration.

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