Home value growth is slowing compared to recent years, but that hasn't made affording one any easier, especially for younger generations. A majority of home buyers (55%) make some sort of financial sacrifice, like cutting their entertainment budget or reducing their savings, in order to buy a home, according to the 2019 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report.
Millennial and Generation Z home buyers tend to give up the most to buy a home, with 71% making at least one financial trade-off to fund their home purchase. Meanwhile, 57% of Generation X home buyers and 33% of Baby Boomer or Silent Generation buyers say they made a financial sacrifice to buy a home.
For the most part, buyers take on more work and less play to fit a home purchase into their budget. Cutting back on entertainment spending is the most common sacrifice home buyers make, followed by working more hours or picking up a second job and postponing or canceling vacation plans.
However, some buyers – particularly younger ones – make more serious trade-offs. For example, 13% of millennial and Gen Z home buyers skipped healthcare services, compared to 8% of Gen X buyers and 3% of older buyers. Younger buyers are also more likely to reduce or cancel some type of insurance coverage to save money for a home purchase.
Coming up with a down payment is a frequent obstacle for homebuyers and, as home values rise, saving for a down payment takes longer than it used to. Most home buyers also carry some type of debt, which can make it harder for them to buy a home without making other financial adjustments.
Going over budget on a home purchase also tends to lead to financial sacrifices. Almost a third (29%) of younger buyers go over budget on their home purchase, compared to 23% of Gen X buyers and 22% of Baby Boomers. Of those who do go over budget, a third (33%) say they did so because they fell in love with a home above their price point, while others bought a home in better condition or in a more expensive neighborhood than planned.
While millennials and Gen Z are more likely to make financial sacrifices to get their home, they're also more likely to receive help from others. Nearly half (47%) of younger buyers with mortgages received a gift or loan from family or friends for part of their down payment, compared to 33% of Gen X buyers and 13% of older buyers.
"The fact that homebuyers have to make trade-offs to save for the down payment is not surprising," said Kathryn Coursolle, an economist at Zillow. "That's pretty much the study of economics: how people make decisions when they can't have everything. But today's trade-offs are non-trivial and often cut into more than just the 'nice-to-haves.' Indeed, some of those who manage to buy young are foregoing going to the doctor or paying for insurance. To buy young means sacrificing more, ostensibly for the ability to sacrifice less, later."