It’s no secret that the Seattle-area home market has long seen high demand, leading to scarce inventory, skyrocketing prices and conditions that often favor sellers. While these dynamics are difficult for most buyers to navigate, Millennials have felt the squeeze ever since they first entered the market.
Typically identified as the generation born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials have had it harder than some of their predecessors, growing up in the aftermath of 9/11, a major recession hitting as many of them were graduating and entering the job market, and many of them carrying mountainous student loan debt. All of this has greatly impacted the long-term buying power of the Millennial generation, causing many to forgo homeownership in favor of renting.
But recent census data indicates that some area Millennials are finding a path to homeownership — just not in King County. In fact, in neighboring Pierce and Snohomish counties, Millennials now make up the majority of homeowners.
While in 2021 only 38% of Millennials were homeowners in King County, Pierce and Snohomish counties tell a different story. There, 50% and 56.5% of Millennial households respectively were owned, not rented.
In King County there were 322,000 households headed by Millennials in 2021. Of those, 62% were rented, a major shift from previous generations, when those aged 25-40 were much more likely to own a home. By comparison, in 1980 57% of King County households headed by someone from that age group were owned, and 43% were rented.
Although King County home ownership has become a challenge for many Millennial homebuyers, Pierce and Snohomish counties have become great entry points to the market over the past few years. In fact, as recently as 2016 only 31% of Millennials were homeowners in Pierce county, and 39.5% owned in Snohomish county. Now, that script has flipped.
It’s not surprising that Millennials have steered either north or south in their quest for homeownership, with the average price for a home in King County hovering above $800,000. While Snohomish County is still expensive at $690,000, and Pierce is slightly more affordable at $525,000, the counties’ proximity to employment opportunities in Seattle and the Eastside have made them attractive alternatives to the pricier homes on offer in the area.
The reasons Millennials are buying homes have changed, too. With many Millennials getting married later than previous generations, the onus to buy a home is less about settling down and starting a family than it is to provide the best possible life for their pets. Though they may not know it, those fur babies now belong to proud Millennial homeowners.