An analyst once dubbed the ‘Oracle of Wall Street’ has warned that not owning homes is damaging the ‘avocado toast generation’.
Meredith Whitney, known for her successful prediction of the 2008 financial crisis, said younger millennials and Generation Z – whom she calls the “avocado toast generation” – have missed out on $21 trillion in equity that older generations built through their home ownership.
“We are seeing record low home ownership among people under the age of 38,” she told DailyMail.com.
“Homeownership has been a forced savings tool in the US, but especially in the last 12 to 15 years because interest rates have essentially been at zero. We’ve seen $21 trillion in home equity built up in the last decade, which is obviously an incredible wealth creator.
“Those who haven’t participated in that are the ones who haven’t owned homes – and that’s disproportionately people under the age of 38,” she said.
Meredith Whitney, dubbed the ‘Oracle of Wall Street’, has warned that not owning homes is damaging the ‘avocado toast generation’.
Whitney noted that there are also more young people now living with their parents than has historically been the case – although this trend has slowed somewhat since the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What’s incredible is that 70 percent of U.S. residential real estate is owned by people over 50,” she said.
Figures from the National Association of Realtors show that the average age of a first-time homebuyer is now at an all-time high of 36.
Similarly, census data shows that only 10 percent of homeowners are under the age of 35.
Aspiring homeowners are currently facing higher mortgage rates, which is deterring homeowners from moving.
Many Americans took out 30-year deals when interest rates were between 2 and 3 percent, effectively trapping them in their current homes.
According to the latest data from government-backed lender Freddie Mac, mortgage rates have fallen slightly – to 7.50 percent from 7.76 percent last week – but still remain high.
In real terms, this means that someone who bought $400,000 in October 2021 – when interest rates were still 3.09 percent – would pay $1,621 per month on their mortgage. This analysis assumes they paid a 5 percent down payment.
But at current rates, the same owner would have to pay $2,657 – an increase of more than $1,000 per month.
But despite declining demand, prices have remained artificially high thanks to limited housing stock.
“Younger people have been priced out of the market,” said Whitney, who is now CEO of investment research firm Meredith Whitney Advisory Group.
The average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage fell this week to 7.50 percent from 7.76 percent last week – the most since November last year
But she speculated that a sharp downsizing among Boomers could ultimately help alleviate housing shortages.
‘People who haven’t sold their house in the last ten years will eventually either need to move or want to reduce their overhead costs and want a smaller home. That’s typically 51 percent of people over 50, which equates to about 30 million units,” she said.
‘Now it’s not happening all at once, but slowly the dynamics will change. Where we have a supply and demand challenge today where there is more demand and less supply, that will turn into more supply – and hopefully more demand.”
The most important thing that needs to change before young people can get into the housing market, according to Whitney, is prices.
“The question is how to break into the housing market for the first time without a large down payment and the ability to pay off a mortgage,” she said.
Whitney previously said she expects home prices in some states to soon fall for the first time in more than a decade.
She predicts that Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois are most at risk of falling prices due to migration trends.
However, prices in Texas may not drop, she said, after experiencing a huge influx of California residents migrating there in search of a cheaper cost of living.
She said, “This is state specific. And so I expected this to happen. With over ten years – twelve years – of data, I can now look at it and know that it did indeed happen and it is still happening.”