Homeownership rates have been declining for all age groups across the country, according to data from the U.S Census Bureau.

One particular group — millennials — whose homeownership rates dropped from 40 percent in 2006 to 32 percent in 2015, have directly felt the effects of The Great Recession. The ripple has been caused primarily by sky-high rents, high house prices and student loan debt.

Now, with an improving economy, multiple years of strong job growth and the notable increase in home values in most markets, it is becoming easier for millennials to afford homes.

Roughly two-thirds of millennial buyers are married. One aspect of their household that has changed is the number of children. In this year’s survey, 49 percent of millennial buyers had at least one child, which is up from 45 percent last year and 43 percent two years ago.

With more kids in tow, the need for more space at an affordable price is increasingly pushing millennial buyers outside the city. Only 15 percent of millennial buyers bought in an urban area, which is down from 17 percent last year and 21 percent two years ago.

“Millennial buyers, at 85 percent, were the most likely generation to view their home purchase as a good financial investment,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.

“These strong feelings bode well for even greater demand in the future as more millennials settle down and begin raising families,” Yun said. “A significant boost in new and existing inventory will go a long way to ensuring the opportunity is there for more of them to reach the market.”

Regardless of age, buyers and sellers continue to see real estate agents as an integral part of a real estate transaction.

In this year’s survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home. This kept for-sale-by-owner transactions down at their lowest share ever (8 percent).

Not surprisingly, online and digital technology usage during the home search has increased in recent years.

Although millennials and Gen X buyers were the most likely to go online during their search, they were also the most likely to buy their home using a real estate agent (92 percent and 88 percent, respectively).

On the seller side, millennials were the most likely to use an agent (90 percent), followed closely by Gen X and younger boomer sellers (each at 89 percent).

— David Kim is a licensed real estate broker with Village Properties and the 2017 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at david@villagesite.com or 805.296.0662. The opinions expressed are his own.