Gen Z looks to friends and parents for help purchasing a home, study finds 

  • Nearly half of Americans (47%) are pessimistic about their finances because of how unaffordable housing is.
  • 38% of Gen Z homeowners received financial assistance from their parents to purchase their home, and 44% plan to do the same when the time comes. 
  • To afford a home, 59% of Gen Z say they’re willing to split the purchase with someone other than their partner. 

Homeownership has long been considered a cornerstone of the American Dream, yet, lately it’s felt unattainable for many Americans. Between rising rent costs, high home prices, elevated mortgage rates and low housing inventory, aspiring homeowners are turning to their inner circle for financial help. 

According to a recent study conducted by Intuit Credit Karma, 47% of Americans feel pessimistic about their finances because of how unaffordable housing is. These feelings were more pronounced among younger generations – 59% of Gen Z and 55% of millennials, compared to 43% of Gen X and 35% of respondents aged 59 or above. 

While the general rule of thumb is that no more than 30% of a person’s gross monthly income should go toward housing costs, that’s not a feasible reality for many Americans. In fact, more than one-third (34%) of Americans say 31%-60% of their income goes toward housing, and one-in-10 are stretched so thin that more than 60% of their income goes toward housing costs each month. 

What’s more, some Americans are avoiding taking on housing costs altogether. According to the study, 14% of Americans live at home with parents or other relatives, and that number jumps to 31% when looking at Gen Z respondents. And, they’re not the only ones struggling to flee the nest. Millennials and Gen Xers are also living at home with their parents or other relatives, 15% and 12% respectively. 

Regardless of the money challenges prompted by unaffordable housing, many Americans still view homeownership as a primary way to build wealth. More than half (54%) say buying a home is the best way to build wealth in America, even though 46% say they cannot afford to buy a home in today’s market.

Not owning a home sparks feelings of shame among young Americans 

Homeownership has long been considered an integral part of American culture that most people could achieve if they followed the standard path – get a job, get married, buy a home. Yet job security and having a stable income don’t carry the same weight as they once did. More than half of respondents (56%) say despite having a stable income, they’re still unable to afford a home, leading roughly 75% of young folks to believe it was easier for older generations to buy a home (75% of millennials and 73% of Gen Z). 

While the overwhelming consensus among Americans is that homeownership feels unattainable, more than a quarter (28%) of non-homeowners say they feel ashamed that they don’t own a home, which could be why 19% say they feel pressure to buy a home right now. This number jumps to 35% of millennials and 24% of Gen Z. 

Those who don’t feel pressure to buy say it’s because it is cheaper to rent in their market than it is to buy (17%) and they feel that owning a home is unattainable (13%). West Coast respondents were most likely to say that homeownership feels unattainable (23%). Beyond financial reasons, some people just don’t want to be homeowners (14%), nor do they want the responsibility of maintaining a home (17%). 

Forever renters are a thing

Homeownership isn’t on everyone’s list of financial goals. Nearly a quarter (22%) of Americans who don’t currently own a home say they plan to rent forever. The decision to rent or buy is a personal choice that many people make based on their lifestyle preferences, not just for financial reasons. While 19% of respondents who rent say they do so because they’re not ready for the financial responsibility of homeownership, others say it enables them to save money (17%), afford the lifestyle they want (13%), or it makes sense because they live and work in an urban city (13%). 

People are shacking up with their besties

Homeownership remains a top priority for 42% of Americans who don’t currently own a home, and some are considering unusual ways to make homeownership a reality. More than one-third of non-homeowners (35%) say that in order to afford a home, they’d be willing to split the purchase with someone other than their partner. The willingness to split a home purchase with someone other than their partner jumps to 59% when looking at Gen Z respondents. 

Prospective buyers tap mom and dad for financial assistance 

As they set their sights on homeownership, those who don’t yet own a home are making lifestyle changes in order to save up for a down payment. Actions they’re taking to save money for a home include cutting back spending on non-essentials (travel, dining out, etc) (35%), working more hours (28%), holding off on making other major purchases (27%), taking on additional jobs (22%), selling personal belongings (16%) and moving in with family to save money (16%). Moving in with family to save money is most common among Gen Z respondents (35%). 

Can’t afford a down payment? Ask mom and dad. 

Nearly one-in-five (18%) respondents who have never bought a home say they plan to receive financial assistance from their parents in order to purchase their first home. That number jumps to 44% for Gen Z respondents, compared to 16% of millennials and 12% of Gen X. Similarly, of those who currently own a home or have owned a home in the past, 19% admit to having received financial assistance from their parents, which was the case for 38% of Gen Z and 27% of millennial buyers. 

“Housing costs have soared these past few years, leaving consumers to grapple with the least affordable housing market we’ve seen in decades,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “As a result, young people are tapping their inner circles to try and make homeownership a reality, whether that’s mom and dad offering to help with a down payment or propositioning their friends to co-buy. Regardless of Americans’ decision to rent or buy, housing costs are stretching many people thin, and in some cases, forcing them to spend significantly more than the recommended 30% of their monthly income. If your housing costs exceed 50% of your budget, you may want to consider less costly housing arrangements, or, try and offset your costs by living a more frugal lifestyle for the time being.”


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma from December 18 to December 26, 2023 among 1,006 U.S. adults above the age of 18.