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HUD Secretary Castro, Realtor.com’s Chief Economist Talk Millennials at GW University

Roughly 150 students, industry leaders and members of the media streamed into George Washington University’s Jack Morton auditorium this week for a virtual (and also real) town hall on millennials and the housing market.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke offered their take on the importance of millennial buyers as moderator Nick Timiraos of the Wall Street Journal fielded questions from the audience and the event’s social media channels.

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If there was any doubt that millennials matter to the broader housing market, Jonathan Smoke put that to rest early in the evening.

He noted that millennials now account for 87 million people, a full 8 million more than the baby boomer generation. This tracks closely with the National Association of Realtors®’ Generational Survey, which found earlier this year that millennials make up 32 percent of all home buyers in the market.

For his part, Secretary Castro spoke of his department’s work to help millennials become homeowners.

The Secretary noted that affordability and access to credit are key for millennials. He took the occasion to highlight the Federal Housing Administration’s efforts to reduce mortgage insurance payments, which he estimated saves buyers an average of $900 every year.

The Secretary said that that it’s incumbent upon HUD to “learn the lessons of the past so we don’t slide back to where we were before,” referring to the recent housing crisis, “but at the same time ensure we offer a great opportunity for responsible folks to be able to own a home.”

As part of this, the Secretary referred to enticing private lenders to open their credit box and offer greater access to financing for more borrowers.

Castro also referenced his department’s Blueprint for Access to credit, noting that although hurdles remain in connecting buyers with affordable mortgage credit, steps are being taken to give needed assurances to lenders, while still encouraging responsible lending.

Realtor.com® streamed the event live from GW’s campus and made a recording available on their website.