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Homeownership likely to be delayed for 'Generation Now' members

Most consumers in their 20s are stuck in a holding pattern, a retail industry consultant says. 'Everything is delayed for them,' she says.

May 27, 2012|By Mary Umberger

CHICAGO — Maxine Lauer calls the group of consumers 15 to 34 "Generation Now" because they want what they want and they want it now.

Trouble is, "now" isn't happening for them, especially for those in the middle of that range, their 20s, who might reasonably be expected to be thinking about buying their first homes.

Generally, though, that's not something they're doing, because most of them just can't, said Lauer, whose Sphere Trending retail industry consulting firm in Waterford, Mich., has studied their attitudes in depth. Basically, she said, they're stuck in a holding pattern.

"Everything is delayed for them," Lauer said. "Homeownership is delayed, and they will rent longer. They're delaying marriage, delaying kids. It's because their peak earning years are being delayed."

Blame that on the economy in general, but numerous factors are playing a part, she said.

"Baby boomers aren't getting out of the way" and opening up higher-paying jobs for them, Lauer said. Boomers "aren't clearing the path because we're working longer. A lot of people in our generation want to go on to work until 70 or they think they have to."

And with a staggering load of student loan debt, young adults find themselves moving back home with their parents.

Lauer suspects that's not as awkward a situation for many families as has been popularly portrayed. From Generation Now's viewpoint, there's not really a stigma to returning home; parents have made it comparatively comfortable for them.

"Maybe too comfortable," Lauer said. "This generation is a lot closer to their parents than other generations have been. They're really an emotionally attached generation."

And many are lingering at Mom's house, trying to save money — that's another delaying factor — until they can afford a down payment on a house, Lauer said.

Umberger writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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