table that lists all the components and processes that went into its latest crowdfunded timepiece, the NB24 Chronograph, along with their prices and origins. For instance, the watch’s Swiss-made movement cost the company $1,056 (including taxes), while the titanium case, dial and packaging — manufactured in China — cost $167, $56 and $22. In total, the watch cost $1,474 to produce.

Below the table, the brand explained that it arrived at a retail price of $3,500 by adding what it called a “minimal markup” for profitability.

sustainability report — what’s new is how easy it will be to access online, a spokeswoman said.

Chopard is another high-profile watchmaker striving to make its business more transparent. In late February, the Geneva-based brand updated its website with more information about its raw materials, including gold from the Barequeros, a community of artisanal miners in the Chocó region on Colombia’s Pacific coast. It also posted its Code of Conduct for Partners for the first time.

And yet Juliane Kippenberg, a Berlin-based expert on mineral supply chains at Human Rights Watch, says these measures still fall short of what other sectors, such as the garment industry, are doing to implement transparency, particularly on the complex topic of gold sourcing.

“Big companies like Adidas and H&M release Excel spreadsheets where they list the names of the garment factories where their products are being made,” Ms. Kippenberg said. “But in this sector, there’s far more reluctance to do that.” (Of course, those companies aren’t immune to controversy, either; H&M for example, is embroiled in one over its cotton sourcing.)

That hesitancy may be because many watchmakers are still wary of transparency’s threatening implications for their intellectual property.

“Part of our know-how is the know and the how — why would you share it?” said Wilhelm Schmid, chief executive of A. Lange & Söhne, a prestige watchmaker based in the German city of Glashütte.

Swiss voters rejected the Responsible Business Initiative, a proposal by a civil society coalition that would have required Swiss companies to conduct due diligence on human rights and environmental risks throughout their supply chains, and publicize their reports. But a counterproposal from the Swiss Parliament that would require companies to ensure the traceability of their supply chains, and make their reports publicly available for 10 years, is expected to become law in 2022.

That means even the notoriously tight-lipped Rolex, the world’s biggest brand by sales — a Morgan Stanley report on Swiss watches published last month found that the company now has an estimated market share of 26.8 percent — will need to make its business more transparent.

“They can’t claim they’re a private company because no one’s asking for their trade secrets,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the New York City-based Luxury Institute. “They will have to answer. There’s no place to hide.”

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Canadian Housing Boom Raises Concern, With Homes Selling Far Above Prices Asked

OTTAWA—The U.S. may be experiencing its biggest housing boom in decades, but one country has been outpacing its peers in home-price growth: Canada.

Just like in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and elsewhere, Canada is experiencing a housing craze fed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the demand for more space, rock-bottom interest rates, and demographics, with millennials moving into their prime-buying years. Yet Canada has seen a more dramatic price run-up than all Group of Seven countries. According to housing data collected by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, nominal house prices in Canada rose at an annual rate of about 16% in the fourth quarter from the previous three-month period, outpacing the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere.

While in the U.S. there are few concerns about a bubble or a 2008-style crash, that’s not the case in Canada, where some analysts and economists worry about real estate’s outsize role in the country’s economy that could be exposed in the next downturn. Canadian housing as a share of gross domestic product was 9.3% as of the fourth quarter of 2020, up from 7.5% a year earlier and from 6.6% a decade ago. In the U.S., housing is 4.6% of GDP, and the U.S. level at the height of its housing boom reached only 6.7%, according to data from BMO Capital Markets.

In addition, starting in the third quarter of last year for the first time since data were collected in the 1960s, Canadian investment in real estate outstripped business investment in nonresidential structures, machinery and equipment as a share of GDP. While money is going into real estate, economists point out that houses don’t produce the goods and services to meet domestic and foreign demand, and expand an economy’s long-term potential.

Real estate in Canada has become “just one giant consumer durable,” akin to a car or a home appliance, said David Rosenberg, an economist and head of forecasting firm Rosenberg Research.

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Auctions of Cars, Watches and Furniture Heat Up

Rich people who shopped too much used to be called collectors. Now they — and those belonging merely to the aspirational class — are all investors.

It’s not just that they’ve spent the last year splurging on stakes in untested, newly formed public companies that have yet to produce products, much less profits. It’s that during the pandemic, seemingly every luxury acquisition has become a so-called alternative asset class.

Rather than elbowing past each other for reservations at the latest restaurants from Marcus Samuelsson and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, or getting into bidding wars for apartments at 740 Park Avenue, they are one-upping each other in online auctions for jewelry, watches, furniture, sports cards, vintage cars, limited-edition Nikes and crypto art.

growing wealth inequality.

sold on the secondary market in 2020 for $30,000 are now going for upward of $50,000 on some resale sites. The Nautilus 5980, a rose gold chronograph sports watch from Patek Philippe that has a retail price of $85,000, can seldom be found on 47th Street for much less than $200,000.

One reason for surging prices, according to Benjamin Clymer, the editor of the watch site Hodinkee, is that “Switzerland shut down, so demand was there while the supply was dramatically reduced.”

had sold shortly before the pandemic through the auction site Bring a Trailer (or BaT, as it’s known) for $560,000 but Mr. Clymer figured it might be a buyer’s market. Perhaps he could get it for less.

He found a beauty from a dealership that hadn’t listed the price on its website. It was in mint condition. Mr. Clymer asked for a quote and nearly fainted upon hearing the answer: $1.2 million.

“I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ Less than a month later it was sold.”

By Thanksgiving, auction houses were sending out news releases almost daily touting their record-breaking sales.

sold in October 2020 for $23,750 through the Chicago auction house Wright. A Mesa coffee table by T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings, a British architect whose name is barely known outside of the furniture world, brought in $237,500 in December; the overall result of the sale was $2.5 million, roughly double what the house did at the same sale a year before.

In February, a digital artwork of Donald Trump facedown in the grass, covered in words like “loser,” sold for $6.6 million, a record for a nonfungible token, or NFT, so called because there’s no physical piece for the buyer to take possession of.

Fittingly, the image was paid for in Ethereum, a form of cryptocurrency that, among millennials, is almost as well known as bitcoin. Two weeks later, Christie’s sold another NFT by Beeple, this time for $69 million.

sold through PWCC Marketplace for $5.2 million. In March, Goldin Auctions, a sports collectible site, held its annual winter auction. “We grossed $45 million,” said Ken Goldin, the founder and C.E.O. “Last year, it was $4.7 million.”

One of Mr. Goldin’s repeat customers is Clement Kwan, the former president of Yoox Net-a-Porter and a founder of Beboe, an upscale line of cannabis vaporizers and edible pastilles that The New York Times has called “the Hermès of Marijuana.”

along with her sisters Dakota and Dresden Peters, owns what some believe is the most valuable sneaker collection in the world — had her biggest sale in five years of being in business: a pair of autographed 1985 Air Jordans that fetched $275,000.

In 2019, the sisters sold 572 pairs of sneakers, at prices that began at $500, Ariana Peters said in an interview. In 2020, they sold 879.

Ms. Peters actually sounded somewhat surprised talking about all this, perhaps because she and her sisters only got into the business because their father, a retired real estate developer named Douglas Roy Peters, bought so many pairs of sneakers they were running out of places to put them.

sold one for $408,000.

Mr. Abouzeid doesn’t have that kind of money, but in a June 2020 “I.P.O.” from Valley Road, he purchased 125 “shares” of one at a price of $25 each.

vintage whiskey. But Johnson & Johnson and Jack Daniel’s don’t interest him.

His Merrill Lynch account contains shares of companies like Sarepta Therapeutics, a maker of precision genetic medicines that treat rare neuromuscular and central nervous system diseases. His fridge is filled with rare, vintage Kacho Fugetsu.

“When my parents saw them in my apartment, they got really worried,” he said. “They said, ‘Is there something we need to talk about?’ But I don’t even open them.”

Earlier this month, when rising interest rates sent high-flying tech stocks into a tailspin, Kacho Fugetsu provided what Mr. Moses called “the perfect hedge.”

Of course, he’s aware that the ascent of his whiskey collection also could come to an end, but that at least has an upside. “Then I’ll finally have an excuse to drink it,” he said.

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Upsizing: The Hottest New Housing Trend You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

For Rhiannon Kruse, moving to a bigger home was about facing the music.

For five years, Kruse and her husband had squeezed themselves into a downtown Seattle high-rise. At 700 square feet, their home meant giving up a dresser to cram clothing into an under-the-bed storage space, and limiting the number of guests they could invite over for dinner. Even Kruse’s parents had to stay in a hotel after making the six-hour drive from Oregon to visit; there just wasn’t enough space for overnight guests.

But for the duo, both professional entertainers, the final straw may have been the makeshift recording studio they crammed into a tiny desk space, wedged between the bed and the window. It just wasn’t practical for a couple that make their living as piano players, Kruse says.

“We had a keyboard setup and a desk and recording equipment. To play, we had to wear headphones because we were in a shared space,” Kruse says. “We definitely maximized the space, but everything had to have a purpose.”

So when Kruse’s husband broached the idea of moving into a much larger house just outside the city limits, it took a little bit of convincing – but not much. The couple fell in love with a 2,700-square-foot new construction home about 15 miles north of the heart of the city.

They also fell in love with the idea of having a place to put a piano – an actual piano.

“My grandmother had given us her grand piano. It was sitting in a storage place for two years,” Kruse says. “[Now] I play a lot more at home. Probably five times as much – and when I do, it’s relaxing. I don’t feel suffocated.”

Rhiannon Kruse and Jeff Coleron in front of their home on the day they moved in. Photo courtesy Rhiannon Kruse.

“People want these larger houses”

The couple’s story may not seem like much of an anomaly these days. They’re part of an uptick in upsizing: More homeowners are opting for a bigger home and larger price tag, skipping the traditional starter home altogether. Millennials are especially part of this movement, according to Zillow research.

What’s more? A new analysis of census data shows that the median square footage of new homes is up 20 percent since 2000, from about 2,000 square feet to about 2,500 square feet.

The data corresponds with what sociologists are seeing firsthand, says Brian Miller, an associate professor of sociology at Wheaton College, just outside Chicago. Miller, who studies cities, suburban migration and culture, argues that several factors could be impacting the shift in housing trends, including the strength of the national economy.

“I see a lot about tiny houses and micro apartments in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York – these cities who are really grappling with housing issues and trying to fast-track 200- or 400-square-foot apartments,” Miller says. “And yet the overall pattern across America is that people want these larger houses.

“The economy has gotten better over the last few years,” he continues, with a nod to cities like Dallas, one of the hottest housing markets in the country. “It seems it’s enabled people to [buy large houses] again.”

Popular culture may be influencing this decision as well, Miller adds, pointing to how homes are depicted on television, in both the reality and scripted genres.

“The typical home on TV is huge. Think about the ‘Friends’ apartments, which were impossibly large,” he says. “I’m thinking of HGTV shows I’ve seen over the past few years, where the dining room seats 10 or 12. I don’t have those parties, but if you’re watching HGTV, it just seems like everything is huge.”

Popular reality and scripted TV shows often depict larger homes as the norm.

Growing home size, guided by research

The abundance of larger homes in popular entertainment isn’t by accident. Home design shows are rooting their programming in extensive research, says Julie Link, director of research and consumer insights for Scripps Networks, which owns HGTV, the Food Network, and others. The company recently conducted an in-depth, comprehensive study they called Dynamics Shaping the Future of Home.

The study’s goal was to better understand what is going on in the lives and in the homes of Scripps Networks’ audience in order to cater programming to them. The network asked consumers to complete video journals, diary entries, collages, and even Pinterest boards.

“We don’t want to be showing million-dollar homes when we’re in a recession,” Link adds. “We want to be reflective of what’s going on in the homes of our viewers.”

The results? Both surprising – and not. Younger consumers (adults between 25 and 39 years old) are beginning to prioritize space, the study found. Fifty-six percent of millennials said that having a large home is important to them, compared with 42 percent of Gen Xers and just 35 percent of baby boomers.

As millennials move into larger homes, they often delay buying new furniture and decorative pieces until they find just the right item.

Once young homeowners find the perfect space, many are biding their time until they find items that are multi-functional and carry meaning, Link continued. They might wait to fill an empty wall until, say, they can frame Instagram photos from a favorite trip, or afford to purchase a high-tech yoga mat that can also double as an elegant carpet.

“Millennials want a story behind [what they buy]. They’re doing this to create a sanctuary,” Link explains. “The world is a chaotic place right now, no matter what your views on politics are. [Millennials] really look inward, and they want to control something. The easiest thing for them to control is their home.”

Open floor plans reflect modern lifestyles

Add that focus on intentional buying to the shift in how homes are designed, with a nod to larger, open spaces. Gone are the days of rigid, closed-off eating spaces or television rooms. In their place are open floor plans and shared spaces, says Mary Dignan Hill, a real estate agent with John Aaroe Group in Southern California.

“Definitely I would say a home design trend is happening. People don’t have formal dining rooms, or aren’t interested in formal dining rooms anymore,” says Dignan Hill. “A more casual lifestyle is becoming more common, and I can see that reflected in home design.”

Dignan Hill, who has worked in real estate for a decade, recently noticed more clients seeking out open floor concepts or renovating older homes to take down walls to create larger, open spaces.

“People want to be able to be in their kitchen and cook, but also be with their family,” she notes. “Where you used to have a separate kitchen, a separate dining room and a separate television room, it’s all becoming one big space.”

Open floor plans’ popularity derives from the flexibility they provide homeowners.

Room to stretch

Two years after upsizing from 700 square feet into her 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home, space is still a novel idea to Kruse – and one she doesn’t take for granted.

“Now that I have the extra space, I understand it. I understand why people want to do it,” she says. “I really don’t miss living in the condo, and I thought I would.”

She mentions the give-and-take of their old, cramped quarters: How, when she lived in the small condo, if she bought a shirt, she’d have to get rid of an old one. A new pair of shoes meant donating a worn-out pair to charity. It was a dance of space.

Most importantly, her new 2,700-square-foot home – with backyard raspberry bushes, fire pit, and private recording space – just brings her peace, she says.

“I had felt so tense living downtown,” Kruse recalls. “When we finally got to space and we could stretch and everything – a lot of that tension was alleviated.”

Find out how much upsizing would cost you in major U.S. metro areas.



Our Racially Divided Housing Market Is Changing, Thanks to Millennials

Kieran Killeen was astounded when he bought a home in Vermont in 2002, and its title barred minorities from living there unless they were servants.

They were empty words. Racial covenants are no longer legal.

But Killeen, who is white, did not like having even a defunct racist restriction on his home’s title. He worked with neighbors to have it removed from his and 121 other homes in South Burlington.

Such covenants were once encouraged by the government. The language on Killeen’s title matched that used by the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s: “No persons of any race other than the white race shall use or occupy any building or any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.”

“It took 70 years to undo the paper trail of institutional racism,” Killeen noted.

Unfortunately, this is not just history.

Racial covenants and other practices from the housing market’s racist past carry forward in the form of segregated neighborhoods and diminished wealth. They laid the groundwork for the terrible financial toll that black and Hispanic communities, in particular, paid during the Great Recession. Even redlining, a common practice from decades ago in which lenders denied loans in minority communities, has made a bit of a comeback in the wake of the housing crisis.

Promising demographic trends could improve the outlook, but some say that’s not enough.

Millennials narrow the racial gap

For more than a century, there has been a persistent gap between white and minority homeownership rates. The most recent data show that 71 percent of whites own homes, compared with 41 percent of blacks, 45 percent of Hispanics and 58 percent of Asians, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The good news is that the youngest generation of homeowners — millennials — is more diverse. And they’re driving the housing market more than people realized, according to Zillow Group’s Consumer Housing Trends Report.

“While minorities remain underrepresented among homeowners, that is changing as a younger, more diverse set of buyers enters the market,” said Zillow Group Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Wacksman.

In fact, half of all home buyers are under age 36. Although the housing market as a whole skews heavily white — with black, Latino and Asian homeowners each representing less than 10 percent of the market — there’s greater diversity among millennials in general, and among millennials who own homes.

Only 66 percent of millennial homeowners are white – much closer to whites’ 61 percent share of the general population.

It’s also encouraging that Latinos and Asians have begun to narrow the gap between their homeownership rates and that of whites. But the gap between whites and blacks has widened.

Blacks face the longest odds

Aside from a run-up during the housing bubble, the homeownership rate for African Americans appears to be in a long-term slump.

The trend going forward is “uniformly worrying,” according to a 2015 report from The Urban Institute. “Erosion of homeownership for blacks threatens to undermine their ability to gain and maintain economic stability, not to mention build assets.”

That bleak picture follows decades of gains.

The economic fortunes of African Americans began to improve after the Fair Housing Act of 1968, when it became easier to challenge redlining, racial covenants and other forms of discrimination.

By the 1990s, blacks had finally established a foothold in the housing market.

However, during the housing bubble, many of them fell victim to mortgages that were unwise, and in some cases downright predatory, said Rolf Pendall, co-director of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at The Urban Institute.

“If you owned a house in a community where only 40 to 45 percent of people owned houses, and you had friends and neighbors and cousins, many of whom were less well off than you were, you might take money out [via refinancing] because you’re helping people get through,” he said.

At that time, even African Americans and Hispanics with strong credit were steered toward subprime or predatory loans, said Coty Montag, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. A former Justice Department attorney, she helped litigate a Department of Justice case against Wells Fargo for such steering that led to a $234 million settlement.

As a result, black and Hispanic neighborhoods were hit harder and have bounced back more slowly from the housing crisis.

“We look every day at sad faces when people are not able to get those loans,” said Antoine Thompson, national executive director of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. It’s the oldest minority real estate trade association in the country, representing African-American and other minority real estate professionals, and it supports movement toward a new credit scoring model that takes into account rent and utility payments as well as non-traditional forms of income.

The Great Recession meant a tremendous setback, compounding earlier forms of housing discrimination.

Those historical practices included government-sanctioned redlining and racial covenants in the mid-20th century that kept blacks from buying homes and building wealth at the same time whites were.

The private sector also played a part back then, Montag said. “Real estate agents would not show African Americans homes in all-white neighborhoods, banks would refuse to grant African Americans conventional mortgages, and contractors could not get financial backing to construct homes for African Americans in white neighborhoods.”

There were also personal assaults, sometimes literally.

“White homeowners would actively discourage African Americans who tried to move to their neighborhoods,” explained Montag. “In some areas, there would be violence or other ways of discouraging new black neighbors.”

Being aware of the past’s injustices is the first step in understanding homeownership among African Americans today.

“Homeownership is the number one way wealth is built in America,” Thompson said. “Whether it was redlining by the government, issues related to African Americans who came home from World War II and did not have access to the GI Bill to go to college, or to government-sponsored loans that created the suburbanization of America: We cannot ignore those realities, which played a significant role in where we are today.”

Read more about African Americans and homeownership.

Latinos and the American Dream

The outlook for Hispanics is brighter, and surveys show they are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to associate homeownership with the American Dream. A hefty 70 percent of Hispanic respondents told Zillow that owning their own home is necessary to living that dream, compared with 64 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander respondents, 63 percent of black respondents and 58 percent of white respondents.

“Homeownership is an aspiration for almost all Latinos,” said Lautaro Diaz, vice president for housing and community development at the nonprofit National Council of La Raza.

For good reason: Owning a home can be key to economic stability, better health and more education.

Hispanics face many of the same hurdles as African Americans, including a knowledge and familiarity gap regarding homeownership.

“If you have a parent and they own their home, they’re going to encourage their kids to do the same as soon as they’re in a position to do that,” Diaz said. “If not, the only way to get that incentive is an educational opportunity you go through, or a best friend — word of mouth is very impactful. People see success stories and think, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”

Given Latinos’ lower incomes — they make $19,000 less than whites, on average — it’s particularly important for them to create a strategy for buying a house, sometimes as a family. “They have to channel their resources into buying a home and not necessarily sending money back to family in Mexico or Latin America,” Diaz said.

Read more about Hispanics and homeownership.

Knowledge as mortgage power

An aversion to debt also hurts minorities disproportionately.

Almost 20 percent of Americans are “credit invisible” or “unscorable,” according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In low-income neighborhoods, that figure is closer to 45 percent — and there’s a divide along racial and ethnic lines. Only 16 percent of white consumers are “credit invisible” or “unscorable,” while 28 percent of black consumers and 27 percent of Hispanic consumers are.

“We meet people all the time who are excellent money managers but have no credit, and no idea that they have no credit,” said Ricki Lowitz, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Working Credit. She was a speaker at Zillow’s 2017 Economic Forum in Washington, D.C.

Some are immigrants who don’t trust American financial institutions. Some are African Americans who were told by parents and grandparents that if they didn’t use credit, they’d never go bankrupt.

“You have to borrow to build credit, and that’s a hard message,” Lowitz said.

Here’s the catch: Most landlords, utilities, cable and cell phone companies do not report monthly payment information to credit bureaus the way mortgage and credit card lenders do.

So if you’re saving to buy a house and find yourself tight on cash one month, pay the credit card bill before the cable. “If you’re 35 days late on the cable bill, no one knows. If you’re 35 days late on your credit card, it will be on your credit report for seven years,” Lowitz said. (However, if the cable bill goes to a collection agency, typically at about 180 days overdue, that is in your record.)

In the Asian community, there’s an added wrinkle: Some Asians are averse to debt because it carries negative connotations in their home countries, said Christopher Kui, executive director of the nonprofit Asian Americans for Equality.

Some are used to paying cash, or having to put 30 percent to 40 percent down on a home purchase, he said. If they have that large a down payment in the United States, the amount they borrow might be so low that they will not get the best interest rates from lenders.

“We do a lot of classes and workshops about how to save for a home, how you really have to take care of your credit history and delinquencies, and what the system looks for when you apply for a mortgage,” Kui said.

Read more about Asians and homeownership.

Changing the system

Kui and others suggest several ways the system could improve, including new credit scoring mechanisms and new mortgage products for people who don’t fit the standard home-buying mold.

One example is VantageScore, a project of the three major credit bureaus that uses a different model, scoring at least 30 million people who otherwise would be invisible to lenders. Not all low-income advocates love it, saying some measures can be discriminatory. But it’s an alternative for some people who have no score in the traditional system, said Alejandro Becerra, director of research at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

“Banks could also take into account multi-generational income, seasonal employment and entrepreneurship like driving for Uber,” Becerra said.

He’d also like to see more lenders in minority communities. “Payday lenders and pawn shops have a presence there. There is still the need for a banking presence.”

It’s the kind of opportunity A.P. Giannini seized when he founded Bank of America — then Bank of Italy — back in 1904. At a time when banks catered mostly to the rich, this son of poor Italian immigrants built the largest bank in the country (by the time he died) by making loans to the working class. “Be ready to help people when they need it most…. It’s the helping hand on a dark day that folks remember to the end of time,” he advised.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, director of the Racial Wealth Divide Project at the nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), believes that to make real headway, low- and moderate-income minorities need the same sorts of progressive economic programs — from mortgage insurance to subsidies for the building of middle-class suburbs — that whites enjoyed.

In the ’40s and ’50s, whites rocketed from 46 percent to 65 percent homeownership with those economic boosts. Minorities were explicitly left out via redlining, racial covenants and other practices.

Without aggressive intervention, by 2043, the wealth divide between white families and black and Latino families will have doubled, according to a study by the CFED and the Institute for Policy Studies. If white wealth remained stagnant, and black and Latino wealth continued to grow as it has for the past 30 years, it would still take black families 228 years and Latino families 84 years to gain parity.

The point of reaching more minority borrowers is not to make everyone a homeowner. Owning a home does not make sense for some people, including those who move frequently or who make so little money that they would have no financial cushion if they put everything into a home.

The aim is to even the playing field so that people with the means to own a home have a fair shot at it.



Portrait of a Long-Term Renter: Crossing Generational Divides

For many Americans, owning a home is a rite of passage. But not everyone puts homeownership on their priority list.

Long-term renters (those who have been renting for more than one year) are opting out of the home-buying game for a variety of reasons, from a desire for mobility to simply not being able to afford a home purchase.

It’s not just twenty-somethings who make up this group – the population of long-term renters spans all generations, from millennials to baby boomers.

According to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, 56 percent of today’s renters are millennials (ages 18 to 34). While a majority of renters are in their 20s and 30s, not everyone is in the under-40-club: 28 percent are part of Generation X (ages 35 to 49), and Baby Boomers (ages 50 to 64) make up another 12 percent.

“I want flexibility – not a mortgage”

Many renters are staying in the rental market longer than they planned, as evidenced by falling homeownership rates over the past decade. The Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends reveals that long-term renters are generally content with their current living situations. This echoes what long-term renters across the United States are saying: It’s about flexibility.

Types of Leases
The majority of renters surveyed committed to a year-long lease.

Los Angeles renter and real estate agent Monica Rivera explains that, for her, renting is all about mobility and location. “I choose to rent because I’m not ready to stay in one place just yet, and renting provides a great level of flexibility,” says Rivera, a millennial.

“I know the traditional idea of homeownership has been finding that dream home you’ll live in for seven plus years,” she adds. “Maybe it’s a millennial thing, but I tend to move every two years depending on new opportunities or even proximity to places I enjoy visiting.”

The report also indicates that the longer someone rents, the more likely they are to stay put. More than half of renters not looking to move have rented for five or more years.

Millennial Kim Van Horn has been renting in Seattle, WA for more than five years and intends to rent for up to 10 more. She and her husband enjoy being able to live wherever they like without the constraints of a “house budget.”

“There’s much more flexibility and inventory with renting,” remarks Van Horn.

Jacqueline Smith, a Baby Boomer who lives in Natick, MA, says her reasons for renting revolve around her temporary living situation. After moving for work, the Smith family chose to rent until their children go to college, and then relocate.

“We’re renting just until our last child finishes the first two years of college,” Smith explains. “It’s easier than buying and then trying to sell in a short period of time.”

“What’s the rush?”

The Zillow Group report also indicates that families who have been renting long-term are more likely to plan to move to a purchased home. In fact, 40 percent of long-term renters hope to purchase a home once they decide to move.

Baltimore resident and SparkRental real estate blogger Brian Davis has rented for most of his adult life. Now in his mid-30s and married, Davis intends to continue renting for some time to come. “For now, my wife and I are still enjoying traveling a great deal and don’t need a home larger than our apartment,” he says. He intends to buy a home once they have kids.

Sam Wright, a millennial who lives in Fort Worth, TX, is a teacher and graduate student with plans to move once she finishes her doctoral program. “I rent because it’s far cheaper than owning a home. Even though my rent is slightly more than my mortgage [would be], I pay less in utilities and nothing in terms of maintenance and repair,” she explains.

“Renting also lets me live closer to where I need to be than owning would allow,” Wright notes. She adds that renting for a few years also affords her the time she wants to decide where she’d like to settle down.

“I just can’t afford it”

On the flip side of opting for flexibility is the harsh reality of financial constraints.

Jamie Harsha Sass, a millennial in Ames, IA, recently bought her first home after renting for 16 years. As a single parent and graduate student, Sass says her financial situation wasn’t stable enough to buy a home of her own.

After remarrying, she and her husband were able to purchase a home together. “I never intended to rent for so long, but my life took some serious unplanned detours,” Sass says. “My credit was a mess for almost a decade, which prevented me from buying a home until recently.”

Debt is another issue for many renters who hope to be homeowners some day. Courtenay Cook Stevens, a millennial living in Orem, UT, rents a home for now. She doesn’t think she and her husband have the credit to buy yet.

“We’re a single-income family with two kids and a ton of student loan debt, some credit card debt, some lingering medical debt, and about one year left on our car loan,” Stevens explains. “With the amount of debt we’re in, we wouldn’t be able to get approved for a home loan that would get us the type of home we need. For the time being, renting allows us to enjoy nicer digs than we’d get buying.”

Adrienne Ward, a Baby Boomer in Union Beach, NJ, moved to the East Coast during the recession and could not sell her home in Illinois. She and her husband are currently renting their New Jersey home on a yearly contract. Uncertain of whether her family will buy property in New Jersey given real estate prices, Ward and her husband plan on renting for the foreseeable future.

While owning a home may be perceived as the ultimate American dream, the Zillow Group report shows that in general, long-term renters are happy with their current living situations.

Check out the full Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends to read more about today’s renter.



Ms. Independent: Top 10 Cities Where Millennials Live Alone

Kelley Libby lives in an apartment with a view of the Richmond, VA skyline from her balcony. She rides her bike downtown regularly for dinner and a show, or sometimes to take a cool dip in the river.

A top-of-the-millennial-pile 34 years old, she is among the 15 percent of millennials who live alone in Richmond, the metro area where a greater share of millennials live solo than anywhere else in the country. Others in the top 10 are Pittsburgh; Buffalo; Columbus, OH; Virginia Beach; Cleveland; New Orleans; Austin; Kansas City and Oklahoma City.


“With home prices and rents rising as fast as they are, it’s a common assumption that young adults in many cases cannot afford to live alone,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. “Though that may be true in some markets, there’s still a large number of amazing places across the U.S. that are prime for millennials to thrive independently. These are places where young adults can easily find jobs at a competitive salary, and where housing expenses won’t eat up the majority of their income, enabling them to save more.”

Low rents help

Rents are relatively easy on the budget in many of the metros where millennials live alone. In Richmond, people of all ages typically spend 26 percent of their incomes on rent, compared to 30 percent nationally, according to Zillow Research. In a place where millennials living solo make a healthy $49,500 a year (median) and employment is up 3.6 percent since a year ago, that makes for an attractive package.

“It’s a good place for young, single people, because there’s lots to do as far as cultural activities and outdoor stuff,” said Libby, who’s a public media producer working on a national project called Finding America. She pays $960 a month for her 1-bedroom, which is in a new apartment complex and has that sweet balcony.

It’s also a great place to settle down, and many of her friends are snapping up real estate. “I have so much more of a chance to buy a place here than I would in big, popular cities,” she said.

She lived for several years in nearby Charlottesville, where “I couldn’t dream of buying a house.” The median home value there is $232,700, well above Richmond’s $193,200, according to Zillow data.

‘I don’t need 100 channels on cable’

With 21 percent of millennials still living with their mothers, and 32 percent of all working-age adults living with someone else, it can be a big deal when millennials step out on their own.

Often they do it in places where rents are more affordable — areas like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Oklahoma City, where rents take up around 25 percent of people’s incomes. They also go solo in metros like Virginia Beach where they can afford to buy homes, and places like Austin with strong employment growth.

Malory Berschet has lived on her own in Columbus for a year, following stints with her parents and with a college roommate. She enjoys it, but she’s had to cut back to make her $1,125 monthly rent.

“My biggest thing was spending money like I was made of money,” said Berschet, who’s 25. “I would eat out all the time or buy lunch rather than pack it. And I don’t need 100 channels on cable.”

Millennials living alone make $38,800 a year (median) in Columbus, where people spend 26 percent of their incomes on rent.

Berschet knows coworkers at Cardinal Health, where she’s a market manager, who save money by living in Dublin, the suburb where the company is headquartered. They pay less in rent and have better commutes, Berschet said, but “they’re a good 20 minutes from downtown.” She likes being close in, where she can easily walk or Uber to visit friends and eat out.

Less solo-friendly cities

At the other end of the spectrum, she has a friend who’s moving to San Francisco and said the rent is $3,500 for an apartment smaller than Berschet’s 1-bedroom — which makes her place seem like a steal.

Only 9.4 percent of millennials live alone in the San Francisco area. It’s not the smallest share of independent millennials in the country — that’s Riverside, CA, with 6.1 percent. They make good money — $66,000 for millennials living alone in San Francisco and $72,000 in Riverside (medians) — but people who live in those places spend 46 percent and 36 percent of their incomes, respectively, on rent.

Prices like that can make roommates — and even Mom’s basement — look mighty appealing.



El Paso, Texas Has the Greatest Percentage of Millennials Living with Mom

Grown adults won’t have to go far to celebrate Mother’s Day in El Paso, TX this year. Zillow’s latest analysis found that El Paso has the greatest percentage of millennials age 24 to 34 living with their moms. Other places with a large percentage of millennials living at home with Mom are Miami, Philadelphia, and Riverside, CA.

The percentage of 24-34 year olds who live with Mom has been steadily increasing in the U.S. for the past several years. In 2005, 13 percent of millennials were living with their mothers. That number is now up to 21 percent.

Rents are continuing to rise, which may be why so many young adults are crashing with their moms. The median rent in the U.S. is $1,389 per month and expected to increase almost 3 percent over the next year.

Culture also plays a role – many of the places with a large share of millennials living at home also have communities with a large Hispanic population. Zillow research shows that Hispanic families are more likely to live in multigenerational households than other ethnic groups.

Omaha, NE has the smallest percentage of young adults living with Mom – just 11 percent. Other places low on the list of millennials living with their moms include Seattle, Denver, and Portland.

In honor of all the moms out there, here’s a list of the top 10 places with the most millennials living at home:


For more information on this analysis, check out Zillow Research.