A monthly sentiment index from Fannie Mae rose to the highest level since 2011, when the survey began, thanks to a surprising surge from millennials.
“Millennials showed especially strong increases in job confidence and income gains, a necessary precursor for increased housing demand from first-time homebuyers,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.
“Continued slow supply growth implies continued strong price appreciation and affordability constraints facing millennials and first-time buyers in many markets,” Duncan added.
The leading edge of the millennial generation is, however, entering the housing market in larger numbers today, with some venturing out of their desired urban cores to more affordable suburbs. Millennials delayed both marriage and parenthood, but that is now changing.
“Millennial buyers, at 85 percent, were the most likely generation to view their home purchase as a good financial investment,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the Realtors. “These strong feelings bode well for even greater demand in the future as more millennials settle down and begin raising families.”
Those numbers would likely be far stronger if home values were not being forced higher by tight supplies of homes for sale, especially starter homes. Nationally, home values rose 6.9 percent in January year over year, according to CoreLogic. That is far faster than income growth but slightly lower than the annual price appreciation in December — perhaps a sign that the jump in mortgage rates after the presidential election is cutting into prices, even slightly.