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The ongoing housing boom has made home ownership a daunting prospect for the millennial generation.Getty Images/iStockphoto

A few cities aside, the housing market in Canada has cooled to a point where prices are either dropping or rising just a little. Yet the temperature is definitely rising in the dialogue about young adults and home ownership.

We recently presented a gallery of millennial voices on housing that presented a troubling situation. In expensive cities like Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver and Victoria, young adults feel either shut out of the market or weighed down by the cost of owning homes they have already bought.

The volume and, um, tenor of the comments suggest that inter-generational tensions over housing are building. On one hand, we have young adults who are eager to own but feel frustrated by the high cost. Pollster David Coletto tweeted on this after our gallery and a column I wrote about it were published. “In every survey of Canadian millennials I’ve done this year, housing is the top issue,” he wrote. “The kettle is getting hot and close to boiling.

On the other hand are members of older generations who think millennials should stop complaining. “It has NEVER been easy!” said one online commenter. Another offered this helpful contribution to the debate: “Stop stamping your feet like a two year old complaining that you can’t afford a home in the area you want to live.” One more, just for fun: “I find it interesting that most of the millennials here want to live in the most expensive places in Canada and blame everyone but themselves for their predicament.”

It’s so ironic to see boomers raging about this. They’ll need a strong contingent of young adult buyers to keep the housing market buoyant. Without young buyers in the market, how will boomer lock down the huge equity gains they’ve made in their homes?

Many boomers are actually quite worried about how their young adult children will afford houses. Here’s an interesting case study to look at if you’re a parent in this group. Can Anne, a 60-year-old recent retiree, afford to give her two adult children $200,000 each for a house down payment? The analysis was done by a money management firm that earlier wrote a piece headlined: “House Rich, Cash Poor: Beware of Strangling Your Kids with Debt.” Here’s a column I wrote about the debt problem for new home buyers. Here’s a story we ran last year on how some worried parents are buying homes for their school-aged kids.

Many boomers feel they had it tough in the early 1980s, when interest rates ranged as high as 20 per cent or so. Bizarro high rates were definitely a challenge, but here’s an analysis that says it’s significantly harder to afford a house today in the Toronto market. High prices today are worse than high rates were.

Anyone for renting? The upside of renting is covered well in a Q&A with the author of a book called The Wealthy Renter.

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