Millennial Homeowners: More Renovations, More Debt, More Stress

Thomas O'Shaughnessy's Photo
By Thomas O'Shaughnessy Updated August 3, 2021


Millennial Homeowners

Homeownership is like a fine wine — it tends to get better with age.

We recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. homeowners and discovered that, generally speaking, the vast majority feel good about owning their homes.

Most respondents reported a sense of happiness, security, comfort, and pride when asked to reflect on their decision to buy.

That is, unless they happened to be a millennial.

In this short analysis, we’ll compare millennial and Baby Boomer homeowners, exploring why the former are evidently more stressed about owning homes than any other generation.

Key Findings

  • Millennials are twice as likely to be stressed about homeownership than Baby Boomers — only 13% of Baby Boomers reported feeling stressed by their homes
  • Millennials are also much more likely to experience buyer’s remorse than older generations: Nearly 50% of millennial respondents felt a least some buyer’s remorse following their purchase
  • What’s causing this stress? 67% of millennials put less than 20% down, leading to higher mortgage payments. In fact, the biggest reason for millennials' buyer’s remorse was that their mortgage payments were too high.
  • Millennials are planning 49% more renovations than Baby Boomers over the next five years, but they’re also three times as likely to use a personal loan and twice as likely to use a credit card to finance their renovations than Baby Boomers
  • Millennials were four times as likely to use their homeowner’s insurance in the past 12 months (they were also the most likely to buy a fixer upper per the findings of our Millennial Home Buyer Study)
  • 43% of millennials were surprised by the cost of maintaining their homes

Key Insights & Analysis

Millennials Are Twice As Likely to Be Stressed Out by Homeownership Than Baby Boomers

It’s no surprise, millennials are new to homeownership. The majority of millennial homeowners (61%) have owned their homes for less than five years.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, 68% of Baby Boomers have lived in their homes for over 10 years. Boomers are experienced and understand the time investment and financial costs of homeownership.

From student loans to financial instability, millennials are still figuring out how to juggle everything life throws at them. For many, it seems the responsibilities of homeownership are a bit more than they bargained for.

They're twice as likely to report feelings of stress towards homeownership and three times as likely to have general anxiety towards homeownership.

This stress can lead to feelings of regret: 51% of millennials reported feeling buyer’s remorse, compared to only 20% of Baby Boomers.

So, what are the main causes of millennial distress?

  1. Millennials are putting less down and paying more in principal interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) each month
  2. Millennials are buying fixer-uppers that require huge renovations
  3. Millennials are using high-interest loans and credit cards to finance their projects

2 in 3 Millennials Put Less Than 20% Down on Their Homes

67% of Millennials are putting less than 20% down on their mortgage, resulting in higher monthly mortgage payments.

In addition to higher mortgage premiums, the majority of millennials will be paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) each month until they’ve earned 20% in equity.

While almost all Boomers have paid off their PMI, most millennials are still a long ways off from this goal.

High monthly mortgage payments and ongoing maintenance issues are the biggest sources of regret for millennial homeowners. Saving for a bigger down payment and setting money aside for repairs could help alleviate these issues. Millennials are using first-time home buyer loans, such as the WHEDA loan, to finance their home buying with less money down.

Millennials Are More Likely to Buy a Fixer Upper, and They’re Taking On Huge Renovation Projects

After surveying thousands of home buyers in January, we learned that millennials were far more likely to buy a fixer-upper than any other generation.

Our most recent survey confirmed that millennials are investing far more time and resources into home repair, maintenance, and renovations than their Baby Boomer counterparts.

While younger homeowners might save on their initial mortgage premiums by purchasing an "as is" property, many aren’t considering the long-term costs associated with renovations and repairs.

27% of millennials have used their homeowners insurance in the last 12 months, compared to only 6% of Baby Boomers.

While this won’t lead to higher monthly premiums, repeated use of homeowners insurance can lead to the insurer dropping the account all together.

Besides mandatory repairs, everyone seems to be planning major projects. 70% of Baby Boomers and 80% of millennials said they plan to make renovations in the next five years.

However, millennials are taking on 49% more renovation projects than Baby Boomers. The average millennial is planning between three and four major projects over the next five years, while the average Baby Boomer is planning between two and three.

The most popular projects among millennials include landscaping, new decks and patios, flooring, bathroom remodels, and kitchen renovations. These projects add up quickly. Home Advisor found that homeowners tend to dramatically underestimate the total cost of home improvement projects before getting started.

Our study supports this claim: 43% of millennials said they were surprised by the costs of maintaining a home. New homeowners often take on more than they can afford, which can lead to high-interest debt from credit cards and personal loans.

"When I bought my home I had plans to redo a bathroom, add a bathroom, redo flooring in the master bedroom from carpet to hardwood, paint kitchen cabinets, and drywall the garage. Drywalling and insulating my garage wound up costing about $5,000 when I thought it would be about half of that or less. Remodeling the bathroom and adding a second bath ended up getting put on hold." — John Frigo, new homeowner

While many millennial homeowners believe a flat fee mls listing is the best way to save when selling a home, a top-ranked or low commission real estate agent can be a better alternative.

Millennials Are Significantly More Likely to Use a Personal Loan or Credit Card to Finance Renovations

Unfortunately, once millennials start projects, they often end up resorting to high-interest personal loans and credit cards to complete them.

While 82% of Baby Boomers are using cash to finance their projects, millennials are two times as likely to use credit cards and three times as likely to use personal loans.

These sources of credit come at a hefty price: credit cards average 17.5% APR and personal loans run between 10% and 30% APR, depending on the borrower's credit score.

39% of millennials planning renovations will use financing alone, while 30% plan on paying upfront in cash. The remaining 31% are using a combination of cash, financing, and the "Bank of Mom and Dad." Home equity loans are less popular with Millennials, in part because these borrowers have less equity than their Baby Boomer counterparts.

All of this isn’t to say that millennials are, as a generation, inherently unfit to own homes; rather, being a young homeowner is stressful.

Millennials haven’t learned the ropes yet, and their inexperience is, unsurprisingly, taking a toll — both in terms of their wallets, and their emotional state.


The proprietary data featured in this report comes from an online survey commissioned by Clever Real Estate and conducted by Pollfish. In total, Pollfish surveyed 1,000 homeowners about their feelings towards homeownership, maintenance, and renovations, as well as the expenses they incur. The survey was distributed using organic sampling on April 22, 2019.


Clever Real Estate

6358 Delmar Blvd suite #300

Saint Louis MO 63130.

E: [email protected]

P: 1-833-2-CLEVER

More Research From Clever

Better real estate agents at a better rate

Enter your zip code to see if Clever has a partner agent in your area
If you don't love your Clever partner agent, you can request to meet with another, or shake hands and go a different direction. We offer this because we're confident you're going to love working with a Clever Partner Agent.