Millennials are finally starting their own baby boom and heading for the suburbs in big SUVs, much like their parents did.
The generation of Americans aged about 18 to 34 have become the largest group of home buyers, and almost half live in the suburbs, according to Zillow Group data. As they shop for bigger homes to accommodate growing families, they're upsizing their vehicles to match. U.S. industry sales of large SUVs have jumped 11 percent in the first half of the year, Ford Motor Co. estimates, compared with increases of 9 percent for midsize and 4 percent for small utilities.
"We do see that demographic group driving larger sport utility sales as they acquire homes, create families and gain some wealth," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Autotrader. "They started with compact sport utilities and now, with families, they're moving up."
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The shift to suburbia may surprise those who've chided millennials for being more interested in pricey avocado toast than in saving for a home. Much of the generation delayed marriage, child bearing and home ownership after graduating with heaping student-loan debt and entering a weak job market. As more millennials overcome this, many want the life of their baby-boomer parents -- the kids, the house in the 'burbs and the beefy SUV.
"As more people move out of their parents' basement -- and there's still quite a few living there -- we expect to see continued healthy demand for homes," said Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow, which found millennials made up 42 percent of home buyers last year. "Millennials delayed home ownership, just like they delayed getting married and having kids, but now they're making very similar decisions to their parents."