The Dallas Morning News

Dual-income, college-educated homeowners are fast-growing group


Trying to gauge the makeup, interests and financial status of today’s homeowners can be a crapshoot, so better look closely at the DICE.

That’s an acronym for Dual-Income, College-Educated, according to John Burns real estate consulting firm. In noting that “you heard the term here first,” the company calls DICE buyers a growing buyer profile.

Dual-income, college-educated households “continue to increase in numbers,” wrote chief executive John Burns and consultant Mikaela Sharp in a recent article. “The number of households with two college-educated spouses/partners in the labor force has exploded, increasing 13 times since the 1960s.”

The consulting pros cite higher educationa­l attainment, particular­ly among women, as leading to the boom in homes and rentals among working couples with two college degrees.

According to John Burns Consulting, the percentage of young adults with a college degree has nearly tripled in the last 50 years – specifical­ly 2.8 times higher than in the ’60s. During that time, college female college graduates have quadrupled. “But don’t bash the guys, their education levels have improved, too,” Sharp and Burns say.

Moreover, college grads tend to marry each other.

“Of the 1.1 million college-educated people under 50 who married for the first time last year, 71 percent married another college-educated person,” the writers note, citing a 2016 American Community survey.

Burns and Sharp did not provide specific figures on the number of homes in which degree-holding spouses both work but indicated that the growth in such groups would influence housing, including:

A spike in affluent owners: “Two incomes, better jobs and marrying later in life makes first-time DICE buyers substantia­lly more affluent than prior generation­s of first-time buyers,” John Burns Consulting points out. That’s the case even when factoring in higher student debt loads, the writers say. At the same time, income inequality will rise as college graduates continue to marry other college graduates at higher rates. Demand for middle class housing will decrease. “We already see a record number of first-time buyers purchase what builders formerly considered to be move-up homes,” according Burns and Sharp.

Homes nearer to job sites: The writers say dual-income college educated buyers want shorter commutes than families with a stay-at-home parent, in particular if they have children, so they can pick up and drop off the kids. With higher incomes, they can swing higher payments for more expensive properties.

A younger home-buying demographi­c: College educated homeowners with two incomes account for 17 percent of all married or partnered households, the consulting company says. But they make up 24 percent of households with married or partner couples born in the 1980s and now aged 29-38.

Another sign of the dual income household impact involves the late 2000s and early 2010s housing slide. Dual-income households grabbed a larger share of the housing market and helped sales recover, according to the 2012 National Associatio­n of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

According to the six-year-old NAR survey, 65 percent of all buyers are married couples. That was up from 58 percent for married buyers.

Meanwhile, Brookings last year noted income and graduation rates in an article on the “new face of American homeowners­hip.” The writer Jenny Schuetz says new homeowners outstrippe­d renters in educationa­l attainment and income.

New homeowners’ $69,000 median income was close to double that of renters and slightly higher than establishe­d owners. Also, nearly 40 percent of owners have a college degree, compared with 26 percent for tenants.

“These difference­s are not surprising, given that households with higher, more stable incomes and more assets can more easily accumulate down payments and qualify for mortgages,” she said.

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Getty Images/iStockphot­o

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