A clip from a 60 Minutes interview of the CEO of a Canadian real estate company has left Millennials confused and/or angry after he made the claim that he bought up about 30,000 homes because young people don’t want to own things like houses or cars, actually. The clip was posted by Twitter account Housing Crisis Watch, which reports on the growing problem of a lack of affordable housing in the U.S. and Canada that is leaving entire generations without hope of ever owning a home in their lives.
“I think if you asked a lot of millennials, and that tends to be our primary resident, they would probably tell you, they don’t necessarily desire to own a home or to own a car,” said Tricon Residential CEO Gary Berman.
Although Tricon Residential operates out of Toronto, their primary market is along the southern edge of the U.S., where its 30,000 single-family homes can be found across 10 states. The company is buying up around 800 more of these homes every month.
“We’re basically an American company with a Canadian ticker,” Berman said in a 2020 Forbes interview.
Berman’s company is one of many that made serious profits over the pandemic as average people were pushed into desperation from job losses, increased prices, and of course, medical bills from an illness that comes with high rates of hospitalization and long-term disabling effects. As 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl notes, Tricon Residential’s profits rose by 67 percent in 2021.
“The pandemic has been a godsend for our business,” Berman said. “In a sense, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us.”
Housing experts have been warning for years now that there is a serious affordable housing crisis in the U.S., driving drastic increases in both rent and house prices and invariably spiking homelessness rates across the nation. One of the major factors making this problem worse is predatory real estate companies buying up houses en masse to rent them back to those who missed the window to buy houses at reasonable prices — primarily Millennials.
“Big investment companies like yours are being blamed for this huge increase in rents across the country,” Stahl points out. “And you can set the rent any way you want, really, given the demand you’re talking about.”
But if you ask Berman, this is the way Millennials want it.
“They’ve grown up in the sharing economy,” he says. “And for what’s important to them is lifestyle, right? And so if they can move into this, what we call, a turnkey or a hotel ready home and have a low-maintenance lifestyle, that’s very compelling for them.”
Actual living and breathing Millennials, however, disagree. Berman has been accused on Twitter of manufacturing consent for higher housing costs and even the end of homeownership as we know it. Other young people are simply mocking the idea that anyone would prefer to pay sky-high rents for their whole lives and never built any equity that could help them survive retirement age.