HICAGO – March 11, 2015 – The millennial generation is inching their way into homeownership. These millennials, born from the early 1980s through the late 1990s, have largely delayed their entrance into homeownership, because they're saddled by debt and experiencing high unemployment in the aftermath of the recession.

But economists are growing optimistic that the millennials are emerging into homeownership. Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®'s chief economist, said earlier this year that 2015 marks an opportunity for younger buyers to enter the housing market and fuel a stronger housing recovery.

Four indicators make economists optimistic:

  • Rising employment: The unemployment rate between 2007 and 2010 among millennials surged to 14 percent (the population as a whole was 9.6 percent), according to Alan MacEachin, the corporate economist for the Navy Federal Credit Union. But as of January, the millennial unemployment rate had dropped to 9.3 percent.

The employment improvement for this generation will bring rising incomes, and that should push more toward homeownership.

  • Moving out: More millennials are moving out of their parents' homes and forming their own households, with new household formation back up to pre-recession levels.

Household formation rates generally take three years to recover after a major recession, according to researchers at the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate in Los Angeles.

  • Low mortgage rates, greater credit availability: Millennials have said that one of the biggest challenges to homeownership is saving for a downpayment, but mortgage rates remain near historical lows, which opens the doors for some.

Also, several government programs make a downpayment easier for first-time homebuyers. For example, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now require as little as 3 percent downpayments for new conforming loans; and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has lowered its insurance premiums, which helps make loans more affordable to first-time buyers.

  • They want to own a home: Young adults say they want to buy. Thirty-two percent of millennials recently surveyed said they were saving for a house, according to a Bank of America/USA Today survey conducted in November.