One Millennial’s Open Letter to the Mortgage Industry

The concept of home buying needs to be reinvented. And the first thing I can tell you is that the idea of “settling down” is archaic.  


Buying a house, having a family, and taking on that 30-year mortgage loan in all its glory is hardly appealing to us. The feeling of being stuck in one place with a house and a gigantic debt looming over our heads is not a feeling we want to have. Let’s not forget that the typical mortgage loan lasts longer than the amount of years that we have been alive.


We accept that building assets (such as real estate) is preferable to renting or leasing when it comes to long-term financial health. But this is still not compelling enough to convince Millennials to purchase. Our definition of “long term” differs dramatically from that of previous generations. If you want to sell us a house, we want to know how specifically taking on the debt of a mortgage truly helps us towards achieving our goals?


Most Millennials have worked very hard to become educated, active, and productive members of society. Our focus is to make the world we live in a better place. Millennials are ambitious and imaginative.  We don’t settle for less. We are focused on our education, careers, what we can give back to humanity, and traveling the world. Our thoughts and actions revolve around human rights, equality, sustainability, fair trade, world hunger, homelessness, technology, saving (yes, really) ... and the list goes on.  We pride ourselves on our wanderlust and unconventionality. To be honest, having a family and children is just not on the top of many Millennials’ to-do list anymore. We feel a responsibility and a duty to our world. How are we supposed to help with all of humanity's needs and achieve globalization from our houses with the white picket fences and immobilizing debt?


For those attempting to sell Millennials on the concept of the “American Dream,” please know this. Questioning, wondering, and blogging about when Millennials will finally settle down does not remotely persuade us to engage in the conversation. The thought that someone, somewhere, is waiting for us to be locked in with a mortgage--more debt (on top of our record breaking student loans) --is off-putting to say the least. Can you blame us?


Unjustly or not, society’s trust in banks is lower today than our trust in media.  That’s not just Millennials, that’s the American public overall. The scars from the subprime meltdown remain--again, whether fairly assigned to the mortgage and housing industry or not. Some fear being taken advantage of during the mortgage process.  Many fear collecting even more debt at a time when some of us can’t find work in the profession we hoped to enter after spending hundreds of thousands to get the necessary degree. It is not an accident that we became skeptics as to which institutions we can or cannot trust.  We’ve experienced it.


You want to get a hold of the Millennial market? Don’t tell us that we should “settle down” for the conventional way of life.  Remember, we question the “American Dream.” Pay attention to who we are: innovators and optimists with the innate need to give back. We also have a sensitive spot when it comes to spending large amounts of money. Know your audience.  Does it look like we are following in our parents’ footsteps? Then don’t market to us the way you did to them.


We’ve seen repeatedly that there is no crystal ball available for housing trends (though, if you do happen across one, please let it be known because this uncertainty is the worst, and not just for LO’s). So instead of hoping we’ll eventually assume our parents’ values and habits, why not engage with us?  Get to know what we really want--not just what you hope will eventually turn us into customers. Engage, don't broadcast. If the mortgage industry can learn this lesson, we’ll be on our way towards reinventing the homebuying process.


What will it look like?