The plight of the millennial is a much belabored topic that runs the gamut from our expensive taste in breakfast foods, our mountains of student loan debt, to our fate of being stuck renting for the entirety of our tech-obsessed lives. If we manage to fulfill the "American Dream," our rationale is ridiculed by generations before: we're after a yard for our dogs, not extra bedrooms.
While my lifestyle has been defined by some of the cliched qualities of millennials (increased expectations from employers, an inclination to move around often, never without my iPhone or my dog), there's one aspect I'd like to push back on: the idea that home ownership is out of reach for our generation. This was an idea I bought into until recently, before I decided to do some research, educate myself, and see the possibilities. A driving reason for getting into real estate was to educate and empower my demographic to think beyond the catchy yet demotivating headlines we've all seen. If home ownership is a goal of yours, don't give it up - in fact, for those in the Seattle area, this is the time to go after it. Trends are shifting and this year promises great potential for first time home buyers looking to put down roots in the Emerald City.
Nationwide, millennials are now in the spotlight as a pivotal force behind an increase in home ownership rates. This age bracket makes up 37% of home buyers, the largest demographic. Anyone with an interest in the real estate industry would be wise to stop deriding our lifestyle choices, and start learning our motivations. And we ourselves should be looking into the opportunities available to us in this changing Seattle market.
What we want:
- Homes on the smaller side, with modern upgrades, in walkable areas that blend the best of city living with the affordability of the suburbs - neighborhood quality of life is the most important factor after price.
- Fixer uppers don't scare us. We're willing to take on the work of a fixer at a lower price point that puts our hours of HGTV binge-watching to good use.
- Sustainable home features tap into our concern for the environment, plus there's savings to be had via utility rebates.
What's holding us back:
- Flexibility is hugely important during this phase of our lives, so many of us are afraid to lose the flexibility offered by renting. If you don't see yourself in your first home for very long, whether you flip and sell or hold and rent, you can gain a passive income investment and long term financial freedom.
- Worried about a big down payment or low credit score? Good news: 20% down payments are rarely necessary anymore, and the way we think about credit may be changing. Government-backed loans allow for down payments as low as 3.5% (some credit unions and local programs even offer 0% down loans), and a new credit rating is being introduced this year that uses a bigger picture, more generous assessment of credit.
- Many of us are putting off traditional institutions like marriage, and some feel that marriage is a pre-requisite to buying a home. But in fact, 25% of first time home buyers are single females!
Opportunities we should be pouncing on:
- In Seattle, we're going to see home prices level off. Houses are now starting to stay on the market longer, necessitating price reductions as the market no longer supports the prices of a few years ago. Those inflated rates caused an increase in inventory (especially in new-build condos) and a decrease in demand.
- Previously, the cooling sellers' market frequently saw multiple offers on one property, leading to fierce competition between buyers and risky tactics. Now, buyers can be more cautious without having to waive contingencies or submit offers above asking price, and perhaps even getting sellers to cover closing costs.
- As the most tech-savvy generation, we conduct a lot of advance online research, but we still prefer to have that knowledge validated when making such an important decision. Thus, millennials use a real estate professional 92% of the time whether buying and selling.
Are you considering purchasing your first home? Still think it's out of reach? Let's grab coffee and talk - the avocado toast is on me.