Amidst all the dysfunction and decay in Washington, some good news about America’s long-term social and economic prospects: Millennials are finally starting to get a foot in the housing market. The Wall Street Journal reports:
After sitting on the sidelines for a decade, millennials are buying homes en masse, promising to kick the already strong housing market into higher gear.
Virtually all major builders are migrating away from the luxury homes that dominated the early years of the economic expansion and are focusing on lower price points to cater to this burgeoning clientele.
“There’s an increasing confidence level in that part of the market,” said Gregg Nelson, co-founder of California home builder Trumark Cos. “The recovery is finally starting to take hold in a broader way.”
Since the 1940s, homeownership has been a major engine of American middle-class prosperity. It encourages family formation, helps people save for retirement, and strengthens civil society. It also tends to make voters more moderate; the uptick in millennial home purchases may be another indication that the rising generation of young adults may follow in the path of the Boomers—dabbling in radical politics in their youth before moving to the center as they buy into the system and lay down roots.
But we should not get complacent. There are still far too many artificial regulatory and environmental obstacles to healthy home construction in many states and regions. And the nation lacks adequate infrastructure to sustain a Third Ring of Suburbs—or the needed housing development further outside of city cores where land is more affordable. As millennials start to zap out of their post-recession hangover, we need to make sure that the a healthy and accessible housing market is waiting for them.