The internet has unleashed its fury against the latest version of a classic board game: Monopoly for Millennials. Hasbro released the game this month exclusively at Walmart for $19.82 (which just happens to be the year that this generation started, of course).
Playing into some pervasive Gen Y stereotypes, players no longer strive to become real estate investors by buying up all of the properties, homes, and hotels on the board. Instead, they vie for “experiences” like a trip to a three-day music festival, a vegan bistro, or couch surfing.
“Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway,” reads the game’s tagline on the front of the box. Ouch.
“We created Monopoly for Millennials to provide fans with a lighthearted game that allows millennials to take a break from real life and laugh at the relatable experiences and labels that can sometimes be placed on them,” Hasbro officials said in a statement. “With many of us being millennials ourselves, we understand the seemingly endless struggles and silly generalizations that young millennials can face (and we can’t even!).”
Some hard facts: The economy may be booming, but so are home prices—and they’re rising at a much higher pace than wages. And despite the housing market beginning to slow, prices aren’t coming down. That makes it increasingly difficult for younger generations, often laden with student loan debt, to muster up increasingly larger down payments and monthly mortgage bills.
The median home price nationally was $295,000—up 7.3% from last year, according to the most recent realtor.com® data available. And prices are often significantly higher in the big cities and along the coasts.
Plus, mortgage rates have been ratcheting up, rising to 4.94% this month, up nearly a full percentage point from a year ago. That small difference can add nearly $150 a month, or $1,700 a year, to a homeowner’s bill. (This assumes a 20% down payment on a $300,000 home and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.)
That’s enough to make any cash-strapped, young buyer’s head—and bank account—hurt. But here’s the thing: Not entering the housing market does have financial repercussions.
Those who aren’t living in their parents’ basement rent-free are paying their landlords instead of putting their hard-earned cash into their own homes, where it could have appreciated over time. That’s equity that can be used to help fund the purchase of a bigger home or even be tapped into if there’s an emergency.
“Do you really want to have a cappuccino every day instead of building wealth in a house?” asks Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of realtor.com. “Buying a home is the primary way that the middle class builds wealth.”
“It’s not a good thing that first-time home buyers are having difficulties affording their first home,” says Kirchner. “But they should strive for it, because it’s a way to bolster their financial futures.”