American Dream still alive: Teens think they'll own homes

A new survey found that American teens overwhelmingly think that they will be home owners—a far cry from millennials who were much less sanguine about their fortunes in an earlier study.

The study, conducted for real estate service Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, found that 97 percent of those ages 13-17 believe they will own a home in the future. Compared with the 40 percent of millennials who said in an earlier Better Homes study that they expected to buy a home in the near term, these new figures prove that the younger generation may be more attached to the notion of home ownership.

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While Sherry Chris, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate president and CEO, said her group was elated to see in the earlier survey that almost half of millennials could soon be shopping for homes, the revelations about teenager's outlook on home ownership was "overwhelming."

According to Chris, this means that the next generation to reach adulthood will bring about 21 million hopeful home buyers to the market. For reference, just over 5 million existing homes were sold in 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Lest anyone suggest that the survey's respondents are unaware of what it takes to be a homeowner, the study also found that the average teen has an impressively accurate understanding of the price of a home: Of the 97 percent who said they would own a home, they estimate paying on average $274,323 for their first one. The median cost of a new home in June was $273,500, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Not only are teens significantly optimistic about their home buying, but 82 percent also said home ownership is the most important part of the American Dream, according to the survey.

A separate survey of millennials from earlier this year found that only 13 percent believed home ownership to be their most important financial goal. Home ownership lost out to retirement savings in the 18-34-year-old age group.

If 97 percent of teens actually achieve their expectations of homeownership, in the long term this could mean a big boost for that embattled American housing market.

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As for why teens attach such a strong importance to home ownership, there is no clear answer.

Mobile, Alabama-based broker Leighton Dees said many teens may hold more sentimental associations with owning a home because of where they were in their lives when the recession struck: Instead of seeing the economic downturn in purely economic turns, many experienced the deeply personal loss of having to leave their childhood homes, he said.

As for how he might capitalize on the impending rush of Generation Z clients, Dees emphasized that he sees social media as a key tool to communicate with that cohort.

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Still, he noted, there are a few years before any significant portion of these teens can even hope to buy a home. The youngest buyers Dees said he sees in his market are typically around 23 years old.

The study was conducted by Better Homes and Wakefield Research in July among 1,000 U.S. teenagers ages 13 to 17 using an email invitation and an online survey. According to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate there is a 3.1 percentage point margin of error.

—By CNBC's Everett Rosenfeld