DEAR MR. MYERS: During the past three months, three of my closest friends each have had at least one of their grown children move back into their home with them. I have read that this is a trend across America, but are there any legitimate statistics to back this up?
ANSWER: Yes. In the largest and most in-depth study of its kind, the U.S. Census Bureau recently released a fascinating report that provides hard data proving the numbers behind the so-called boomerang kids phenomenon, and other information about the way many Americans live their daily lives.
The Census Bureau focused on Americans who were born between 1941 and 1957 – when the bulk of the baby boomers were raised – and how they were living in the 1970s. Then, the bureau compared those stats with how people that age in 2016 were living.
As part of the study, Census researchers established four milestones of adulthood: Moving out of their parents’ home, obtaining a job, getting married and then having a child.
Even the researchers admitted that they were surprised by their findings. “Today’s young adults look [demographically] different from prior generations in almost every regard,” the report surmised.
A key finding is that one out of every three Americans ages 18 to 34 – roughly 24 million young adults – were living in their parents’ home in 2015. Forty years earlier, in 1975, the figure was closer to one in five.
One factor here is that young people today are delaying marriage, the study said. In 1975, 80 percent of Americans were married by age 30. Today, you’d have to survey people up to age 45 to reach that same threshold.
Another sign of the times: In 1975, 43 percent of women ages 25 to 34 were out of the labor force and instead stayed at home to take care of their family. That figure had dwindled to 14 percent last year.
Not surprisingly, the Census Bureau said these dramatic changes can partly be attributed to the prolonged increase in housing prices over the past several years: It’s obviously much harder for younger people to buy their first home, or even to scrape up first and last month’s rent for an apartment these days.
In addition, many of the shrinking percentage of younger married couples who were able to buy a house are struggling to meet their housing payments. That makes the idea of letting one spouse become a stay-at-home parent a distant dream, because it takes most families at least two incomes (or more) to keep a roof over their heads.
Other reasons for the changes: A greater percentage of younger Americans are pursuing expensive college degrees, which easily can take four years to complete and then can leave them saddled with student-loan debt. Staying in their parents’ home longer, or moving back into it years later, can help them pay their bills and maybe even save to buy a house or rent an apartment of their own.
REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: A report by statisticsbrain.com found that about 26 percent of all U.S. homeowners owned their property mortgage-free in 2015. That was down sharply from nearly 30 percent just a year earlier, perhaps because many older homeowners who were once “free and clear” of their mortgage debt refinanced or took out a home-equity loan to pay medical expenses or other bills.
DEAR MR. MYERS: What is the difference between an “administrator” and an “administratrix”?
ANSWER: Nothing, An administrator is a person who has court-approved authority to manage and distribute a home or other property that a deceased person left without a written will or living trust. An administratrix does the same thing, but some courts must add “trix” to the end to specify that it is a woman who is handling the estate rather than a man.
DEAR MR. MYERS: I don’t have a very good credit score because I pay for almost everything I buy with cash. However, I have almost $33,000 in my checking and saving accounts, plus another $62,000 or so in my retirement account. I want to buy a home now, so how can I get this information on my credit report to show that I would be a responsible borrower and pay back the money?
ANSWER: For better or worse, financial assets are almost never listed on a credit report. The primary purpose of a report is to show how much you currently owe to creditors (not how much you have saved), and how well you have handled your debt obligations in the past.
Though you can’t make your assets part of your permanent report, you’ll nonetheless get “credit” for them when you apply for a mortgage. That’s because a loan application always asks for information about the prospective borrower’s earnings, savings, brokerage accounts and other assets.
Your chance of getting a loan at the best possible rate should improve dramatically after you show the lender proof of your rather sizable savings.
David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.