Breaking Down Barriers: Millennials and Homeownership

Miles Oliver
A couple sitting on the doorstep of a house
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Homeownership is one of the significant life milestones. Owning a house is about more than gaining a financial asset. It’s also the freedom to adapt your space to create the best possible environment for you and your family. Yet, this is an experience that has eluded many millennials — largely as a result of financial hardships. 


The tide is gradually starting to turn, with 2022 being the first year that a slight majority of millennials in the U.S. were able to buy. Many still find this challenging, though, and you may well be among them. Let’s be clear: the solutions here are not as simple as canceling Netflix subscriptions or reducing avocado consumption, despite what some members of previous generations say. Nevertheless, there are practical ways you can break down the various barriers to positive homeownership


Let’s explore some of them.

Overcoming Financial Hurdles

Let’s face it: the last couple of decades — between recessions, financial crises, and COVID-19 — haven’t been an easy monetary landscape for millennials to navigate. Is it any wonder that when you type “How can millennials…” into search engines, the autocomplete will usually suggest “afford a house?” So, what can you do to handle these difficulties?


A person holding an empty wallet


Well, there are no quick and easy solutions here. Consider adopting some long-term strategies, including:


  • Improving your credit score: Your credit score is a big influence on not just whether you can get a mortgage but also the down payment and interest rate options you’re offered. Some of the ways you can make an impact include staying on top of your utility bills and regularly paying down credit cards.
  • Focusing on high-yield savings accounts: Saving a down payment for your home is one of the most difficult elements, particularly in tough economic times. You may be able to maximize the amounts you are able to put away by using high-yield savings accounts that offer higher interest rates for additional funds to accrue. 


If you already have a down payment saved but you’re concerned about your ability to make mortgage payments, house hacking might be an option for you. This involves renting out a portion of the property you buy to boost your income. However, it’s important to be organized in your approach to renting, including adopting technology to streamline payments. Vet potential tenants both for their ability to pay and your willingness to share space with them. 

Navigating the Purchasing Process

If this is your first home-buy experience, you can expect some hurdles along the way. The good news is that there are practical steps first-time homeowners can take to have a more positive journey. Firstly, get some clarity on what your priorities are for your home. This shouldn’t just involve budget — though that’s important — but also what your plans are for the space. For instance, if you want to start a family, additional rooms might be necessary. Make a list of your non-negotiable needs alongside your ideal wants.


When you’re setting your budget for the purchase, you should also remember that property price isn’t the only consideration. There will also be closing costs, which might include attorney and inspection fees, among others. It’s best to keep aside at least 3% of your budget to account for such costs. 


It’s also wise to do a little research about the areas you’re looking at buying a home in. After all, an attractive house price might well be negated by being in a high-crime neighborhood or not having many amenities nearby. If possible, when you’re touring properties, try to have conversations with those who live in the area. This can give you insights into what day-to-day living might be like.


A person and person hugging in front of a house

Adapting to the Challenges of Owning

Owning your first home can be really exciting. It can be challenging, too. You’ll have responsibilities that you didn’t have as a renter. Getting a good understanding of how to adapt to these can minimize how stressful, costly, or disruptive they are. 

Performing regular maintenance

When renting, your landlord was likely responsible for any maintenance or repairs. Now, you’re your landlord and you have to take this on yourself. A pre-emptive approach is usually better and more cost-effective than performing repairs.


A couple of times a year, do a top-to-bottom inspection of your home. Look for signs of broken or displaced shingles on your roof, signs of mold on your ceilings and walls, and how well your heating and air-conditioning functions. If you’re uncertain about this, you can hire a professional to perform a full inspection. You should also be proactive about replacing door screens, sealing gaps around windows, and clearing your gutters to prevent weather-related damage. 

Handling homeowners associations

In some neighborhoods, one of the conditions of homeownership is membership of the local homeowners association. At their best, they help keep the neighborhood safe, maintain the aesthetics of the area, and handle disputes. Nevertheless, there can be challenges related to rules and relationships here.


It’s always best to be well-informed when dealing with homeowners associations. Get a solid understanding of the rules and regulations of the organization, so you can avoid conflicts. Start to build respectful and positive relationships with board members. Keeping a civil tone even in difficult conversations can be key to smooth resolutions. Even better: run for a position on the board to be more meaningfully involved with decision-making.


Overcoming the challenges of owning a home requires a combination of research, planning, and proactive steps. This is relevant at all stages of the process, from saving for a downpayment to maintaining a property. Once you’ve climbed that first rung on the property ladder, be open to sharing your experiences with other millennials, too. Your insights and tips can empower others to begin their journey to homeownership on the most positive note.


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