A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the tribulations associated with selling a home. We were in the thick of inspections, appraisals, etc. As we sold our home, and worked on a separate home purchase at the same time.

Then our home sale fell through, which killed my purchase. While I might not be heeding Harry’s advice to be real estate free, I’m also not so bullheaded as to own two homes that function as primary residences.

Just like baseball, there’s no crying in real estate. We wiped the slate clean and started over. A new buyer showed up within 10 days.

We came to an agreeable price quickly, but he needs to sell his home. It’s a more conventional property than mine, so it shouldn’t be an issue. But the new contract came with some interesting provisions.

During his option period, the buyer wants to get an inspection, which is common. He also wants a separate roof inspection, separate HVAC inspection, and separate stucco inspection, which I didn’t know was a thing.

I don’t have to bear the financial burden of these items, but I was curious as to how much he’s shelling out to get separate reports. A little homework told me that he’s adding $1,500 in specialized inspection reports on top of the traditional $600 general report.

Everyone Needs a Safety Net

Welcome to the latest iteration of the safety net society, where people want stronger guarantees that they will succeed, or at least not fail, and look to outside sources for those assurances.

On an individual basis, everyone gets to choose how much they’re willing to spend for peace of mind. But when we move from our personal purchases to society at large, things change. The cost moves from the individual to the entire group.

In the August issue of Boom & Bust, I outlined how voters are changing as we move into the 2020 election cycle and beyond. I’m not talking about an individual voter changing her mind on issues, I’m referring to the fact that the electorate is getting younger as a large number of Millennials go to the polls for the first time and overtake Boomers and members of the Silent Generation as the dominant force in the American electorate.

GenX’ers, as you might imagine, don’t count as much because of their relatively small numbers.

Everyone is Getting Younger Again

In the 2018 mid-term elections, more voters under 50 years old turned out than those over 50, the first time that’s happened since at least the early 1970s. In the 2020 election, Boomers and older generations will be just 40% of voters, down from 70% in 2000.

As the younger groups go to the polls, they will pull the levers that correspond to their priorities, looking for answers on things like healthcare, student loans, and climate change. The answers put forth to address these issues have one thing in common – they’re all expensive, and require everyone to pay.

Maybe this is the logical outcome of the Great Recession and diverging experiences of younger workers and their parents. The rising class of voters came of age in a time of uncertainty, and then watched asset prices run away from them as wages grew slowly.

And the college-educated Millennials got the joy of entering the labor force with the added burden of student loan debt. No one forces you to take loans, but the outrageous growth of the cost of college made attending all but unaffordable for many without taking on debt.

The combination of fewer opportunities and extra headwinds is probably difficult for a group that was told by parents they were all winners, particularly when you consider that the rules of the game changed through no fault of theirs.

I’m Not Knocking Millennials

I know the snowflake stereotypes, but as the parent of a couple of them, I also know there are many who work hard, save, and try to build their lives on their own.

I’m recognizing that their priorities are different from mine and many of the people that came before me. Where my generation wanted a level playing field and for the government and all others to get out of the way, the younger group seems to want a backstop when possible.

Maybe that’s just the way of the future. Maybe the couple buying my home is on the cutting edge of getting ever more specialized inspections and check ups before major purchases and life changes, and building social safety nets wherever possible.

It might be the smart way to go, but it sure adds layers of cost to my personal transaction and society at large. Out of all of this, one thing seems obvious – if you build an industry around looking for problems, you’ll certainly find them. When you do, then you’ll have to figure out how to pay for them. And that’s where the fight starts.

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Rodney Johnson
Rodney works closely with Harry to study the purchasing power of people as they move through predictable stages of life, how that purchasing power drives our economy and how readers can use this information to invest successfully in the markets. Each month Rodney Johnson works with Harry Dent to uncover the next profitable investment based on demographic and cyclical trends in their flagship newsletter Boom & Bust. Rodney began his career in financial services on Wall Street in the 1980s with Thomson McKinnon and then Prudential Securities. He started working on projects with Harry in the mid-1990s. Along with Boom & Bust, Rodney is also the executive editor of our new service, Fortune Hunter and our Dent Cornerstone Portfolio.