Homebuyer Blues

This is how much money millennials need to save to buy a home in Austin

This is how much millennials need to save to buy a home in Austin

Deep East Austin home for sale
Buyers should have $47,920 for a down payment on a starter home in Austin. Photo courtesy of Creede Fitch

Buying a home can be a challenge — especially in Austin — and the housing forecast looks especially grim for millennials.

As part of an annual survey, Apartment List asked millennial renters across the country about their plans for homeownership. The Austin metro area lines up with the national trend: A lot of young people want to buy a place, but they can't afford to right now, and they may not be able to anytime soon.

Seventy-nine percent of local millennials plan to buy a home, but most say they need at least three years to prepare. Affordability is the main reason for holding off, not surprising to anyone who's looked at the Austin market as of late.

While millennials understand that the market is pricey, they greatly underestimate what it will take to buy a home. Survey respondents think they need $21,640 for a down payment, but 2016 data from the National Association of Realtors says first-time buyers should have $47,920 in the bank, 20 percent of the $239,600 median priced Austin-area starter home.

These prospective homebuyers have a long road ahead. Local respondents report having $2,520 in savings, with plans to contribute $140 each month. While they think it will take less than nine years to save up the necessary dough, based on the savings rate and down payment requirements, they'll need to save for almost 21 years to buy a home. That's double the time calculated on the 2016 survey.

This disconnect is seen across the country. The delay in first-time home purchases is part of what Apartment List calls an ongoing affordability crisis that is shaping the future of the housing market. Homeownership across the country is historically low, and millennials, the largest generation, won't be able to boost those figures.

"High levels of student debt and stagnant career opportunities have long kept millennials sidelined from the real estate market and, even with recent improvements in the labor market, affordability continues to be a major concern. Our analysis shows that the lack of savings by millennials, combined with the extreme shortage in affordable entry-level homes, means that a large share of millennials may be stuck renting for years."