It’s no secret that the vast majority of Millennials are not Scrooge McDuck-level millionaires.
They borrow money from their parents while scrimping and saving every nickel possible for a downpayment, yet Generation Y still struggles to break into the housing market, routinely bumping up against high prices and low inventory. But among their debt-laden and shameless avocado-toast-eating peers, millionaire Millennials do exist — and they’re buying homes.
Housing Market News Alerts
Sign up now for news alerts on the Canadian housing market
In a study published this week by Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, there are approximately 618,000 Millennial millionaires in the United States, 92 percent of whom have purchased a property. While the population of millionaire Millennials is relatively small — only 0.2 percent of the general US population — by 2030, Millennials will gain five times as much wealth as they hold today and receive over $68 trillion through generational wealth transfers, according to the report’s findings. It’s possible that many Millennials who are not wealthy now, could be in the future thanks to a generous inheritance.
When it comes to home buying, do regular ol’ Millennials and their millionaire peers share similar ideals, or are they worlds apart? According to A Look at Wealth 2019: Millennial Millionaires, here’s how wealthy Millennials feel about homeownership.
A fixer-upper for the upper class
Everyone loves a good DIY project, millionaires included.
Seventy-seven percent of millionaire Millennials expressed an interest in home improvement. Buying a property that needs work but is located in an upscale neighborhood, the study found, is a strategy used by richer Millennials who can’t afford new construction in expensive cities. This is the case in many California communities, where 44 percent of millionaire Millennials live. By comparison, average Millennials preferred to stay in “suburbs or second-tier cities” where living is more affordable.
Fixer-uppers provide an opportunity to customize and personalize the home, as well as gain more space for your dollar. Karen Yang and Christopher Fling, realtors at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Los Altos, find that their older millionaire Millennial clients aren’t afraid to spend on renovations, especially if it means getting a big house in an ideal neighborhood for their growing families. Still, not all Millennials are eager to pick up the toolbelt. Yang and Fling both state that some of their younger Millennial clients don’t have the skills or interest to take on renovations.
“Moving into a house that is not renovated, or a house that needs work? They’re just not into it,” notes Fling in the report.
Skip the Lyft and walk instead
Affluent and average-Joes alike appreciate communities with culture and an abundance of amenities at their door.
Traverse City, Michigan is listed as one of the top ZIP codes that millionaire Millennials are flocking to. It sounds unusual compared to the typical wealthy metropolises of Los Angeles and New York, but Traverse City’s distinct arts community, festivals, wineries and food have attracted young, wealthy homeowners.
“The younger affluent like that they can get a fabulous home on, near or overlooking vineyards, fresh water or beaches for a fraction of the cost of larger metropolitan areas,” writes Shawn Schmidt Smith in the report, an associate broker and owner at Traverse City-based Coldwell Banker Schmidt.
Walkable neighborhoods trend as a desirable feature in a home for both wealthy and average Millennials, but for different reasons. Sixty-two percent of Millennial millionaires in the report said that they had an interest in health, and preferred to be within walking distance of fitness centers, yoga studios and healthy dining options. Non-wealthy Millennials, however, are ditching their car as a cost saving measure, opting to walk, bike or use ride-share apps as alternative modes of transportation — a walkable community makes getting around a lot easier. Millionaire Millennials aren’t splitting an Uber with their peers, though. Their top car model is a BMW 3 Series; a regular Millennial reportedly prefers a Chevrolet Silverado.
Posh portfolios for passive income
Unlike Millennials who save for one house they hope to call home forever, millionaire Millennials tend to view real estate as a generator for future wealth.
The average Millennial millionaire owns three properties and has a real estate portfolio worth $1,367,022, according to the report. This is slightly higher than the previous millionaire generation, who owned 2.4 properties and maintained a portfolio of $919,000. Most millionaires only live in their home for a few years, then keep the property as an investment by renting it out when they move on to another place.
“They know that wealth building begins with that first primary residence,” writes Fling.
Eighty percent of millionaire Millennials buy a single-family residence. Compared to the general Millennial population, access to this type of residence allowed for a greater percentage of richer Gen Ys to have families, with 67 percent of millionaire Millennials already being married, compared to 40 percent of non-millionaire Millennials.