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Survey Results: What Do Millennials Want in a Home?

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When it comes to buying a home, it’s safe to say that many millennials are caught in a catch-22.

Even though more millennials associate buying a home with the “American Dream” than any other generation, the homeownership rate for Americans under age 35 is near record lows at just 34.7%. In other words, millennials seem to want to buy homes, but various factors have been preventing them in doing so.

Waiting until later in life to start families is one commonly-cited aspect of the story, but millennials are also saddled with student debt and low wages, which have prevented from from amassing any significant savings.

Despite these factors, the demographic evidence is compelling – and many experts are expecting a shift in millennial buying behavior in the coming years.

What Millennials Want in a Home

As the real estate sector becomes more focused on millennials, the market is keying in on an important question: what do millennials want in a home?

Today’s infographic from Northshore Fireplace has an interesting methodology to help us get started in thinking about this question. In late 2016, they commissioned a unique study on 1,000 millennials, representative of all 50 states, in which respondents played a hypothetical game.

Each prospective buyer was put in the following situation: they are starting with an average American home (20+ years old, three bedrooms, and two baths), but have a $300,000 budget to choose between 38 hypothetical property upgrades to get them closer to the home of their dreams.

Here is how millennials chose to spend those budgets:

What do millennials want in a home?

The results are fascinating, and provide an interesting lens with which to think of real estate in the coming millennial era:

  • The three most popular upgrades were also in the lowest cost category: new appliances (75%), large master bedroom (64%), and two-car garage (54%)
  • The least popular upgrade was an above-ground pool (3%)
  • Having solar power and an energy storage system also ranked relatively high at 47%
  • Only 24% respondents cared about upgrading to have more land (1+ acres)
  • Other popular options: luxury kitchen (46%), solid hardwood/stone flooring (45%), and finished basement (41%)

Study Methodology

First, a baseline was established to represent the average American home. In this case, it was 20+ years old, and came with three bedrooms and two baths, a one car garage, an unfinished basement, and old appliances. All this sits on a quarter-acre lot in an average neighborhood, as part of an average school district. The approximate value of this home is $200,000.

Respondents were given $300,000 of play money to spend, using a hypothetical menu of 38 upgrades with a combined value of $1,000,000. This was represented on the survey by having 20 points to choose from, with each option costing one to three points (depending on how expensive it is).

Northshore Fireplace also rightly noted that real estate is highly subjective – and although in real life these different costs may vary, what is important in this context is how millennials value things within the vacuum of this game.

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Markets

What History Reveals About Interest Rate Cuts

How have previous cycles of interest rate cuts in the U.S. impacted the economy and financial markets?

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Line chart showing the depth and duration of previous cycles of interest rate cuts.

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The following content is sponsored by New York Life Investments

What History Reveals About Interest Rate Cuts

The Federal Reserve has overseen seven cycles of interest rate cuts, averaging 26 months and 6.35 percentage points (ppts) each.

We’ve partnered with New York Life Investments to examine the impact of interest rate cut cycles on the economy and on the performance of financial assets in the U.S. to help keep investors informed. 

A Brief History of Interest Rate Cuts

Interest rates are a powerful tool that the central bank can use to spur economic activity. 

Typically, when the economy experiences a slowdown or a recession, the Federal Reserve will respond by cutting interest rates. As a result, each of the previous seven rate cut cycles—shown in the table below—occurred during or around U.S. recessions, according to data from the Federal Reserve. 

Interest Rate Cut CycleMagnitude (ppts)
July 2019–April 2020-2.4
July 2007–December 2008-5.1
November 2000–July 2003-5.5
May 1989–December 1992-6.9
August 1984–October 1986-5.8
July 1981–February 1983-10.5
July 1974–January 1977-8.3
Average-6.4

Source: Federal Reserve 07/03/2024

Understanding past economic and financial impacts of interest rate cuts can help investors prepare for future monetary policy changes.

The Economic Response: Inflation

During past cycles, data from the Federal Reserve, shows that, on average, the inflation rate continued to decline throughout (-3.4 percentage points), largely due to the lagged effects of a slower economy that normally precedes interest rate declines. 

CycleStart to end change (ppts)End to one year later (ppts)
July 2019–April 2020-1.5+3.8
July 2007–December 2008-2.3+2.6
November 2000–July 2003-1.3+0.9
May 1989–December 1992-2.5-0.2
August 1984–October 1986-2.8+3.1
July 1981–February 1983-7.3+1.1
July 1974–January 1977-6.3+1.6
Average-3.4+1.9

Source: Federal Reserve 07/03/2024. Based on the effective federal funds rate. Calculations are based on the previous four rate cut cycles (2019-2020, 2007-2008, 2000-2003, 1989-1992, 1984-1986, 1981-1983, 1974-1977).

However, inflation played catch-up and rose by +1.9 percentage points one year after the final rate cut. With lower interest rates, consumers were incentivized to spend more and save less, which led to an uptick in the price of goods and services in six of the past seven cycles. 

The Economic Response: Real Consumer Spending Growth

Real consumer spending growth, as measured by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, typically reacted to rate cuts more quickly. 

On average, consumption growth rose slightly during the rate cut periods (+0.3 percentage points) and that increase accelerated one year later (+1.7 percentage points). 

CycleStart to end (ppts)End to one year later (ppts)
July 2019–April 2020-9.6+15.3
July 2007–December 2008-4.6+3.1
November 2000–July 2003+0.8-2.5
May 1989–December 1992+3.0-1.3
August 1984–October 1986+1.6-2.7
July 1981–February 1983+7.2-0.7
July 1974–January 1977+3.9+0.9
Average+0.3+1.7

Source: BEA 07/03/2024. Quarterly data. Consumer spending growth is based on the percent change from the preceding quarter in real personal consumption expenditures, seasonally adjusted at annual rates. Percent changes at annual rates were then used to calculate the change in growth over rate cut cycles. Data from the last full quarter before the date in question was used for calculations. Calculations are based on the previous four rate cut cycles (2019-2020, 2007-2008, 2000-2003, 1989-1992, 1984-1986, 1981-1983, 1974-1977).

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Global Financial Crisis were outliers. Spending continued to fall during the rate cut cycles but picked up one year later.

The Investment Response: Stocks, Bonds, and Real Estate

Historically, the trend in financial asset performance differed between stocks, bonds, and real estate both during and after interest rate declines.

Stocks and real estate posted negative returns during the cutting phases, with stocks taking the bigger hit. Conversely, bonds, a traditional safe haven, gained ground. 

AssetDuring (%)1 Quarter After (%)2 Quarters After (%)4 Quarters After (%)
Stocks-6.0+18.2+19.4+23.9
Bonds+6.3+15.3+15.1+10.9
Real Estate-4.8+25.5+15.6+25.5

Source: Yahoo Finance, Federal Reserve, NAREIT 09/04/2024. The S&P 500 total return index was used to track performance of stocks. The ICE Corporate Bonds total return index was used to track the performance of bonds. The NAREIT All Equity REITs total return index was used to track the performance of real estate. Calculations are based on the previous four rate cut cycles (2019-2020, 2007-2008, 2000-2003, 1989-1992). It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Index definitions can be found at the end of this piece.

However, in the quarters preceding the last rate cut, all three assets increased in value. One year later, real estate had the highest average performance, followed closely by stocks, with bonds coming in third.

What’s Next for Interest Rates

In March 2024, the Federal Reserve released its Summary of Economic Projections outlining its expectation that U.S. interest rates will fall steadily in 2024 and beyond.

YearRange (%)Median (%)
Current5.25-5.505.375
20244.50-4.754.625
20253.75-4.03.875
20263.00-3.253.125
Longer run2.50-2.752.625

Source: Federal Reserve 20/03/2024

Though the timing of interest rate cuts is uncertain, being armed with the knowledge of their impact on the economy and financial markets can provide valuable insight to investors. 

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