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Why, When and Where: Millennial Homeownership

As a real estate professional, I like giving a nationwide perspective of home prices and buying opportunities. I often hear about how millennials don’t like to settle down as much as previous generations, leading me to believe that more people are taking a broader look the country when it comes to buying a home. However, a article put me back on my heals. Turns out millennials are not actually moving as much as previous generations. The major shift isn’t how many people are moving, but where they are moving to. Cities that young people ignored a decade ago are now thriving. Real estate prices are still generally low in many of these places, giving young professionals more buying power due to low housing costs.

Last year one in five people aged 25 to 35 said they lived somewhere else 12 months earlier. That’s six percentage points fewer than Gen Xers in 2000, and seven points fewer than late boomers in 1990. While six percent isn’t a huge number, it’s still a trend that I found surprising. On the flip side, over eighty percent of millennials are willing to move for a job. So while the amount of people moving may be slightly lower, the amount willing to move is sky high.

Cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have always attracted young people with their promise of jobs and an exuberant social scene. However, the trend seems to be shifting and big cities are losing population. Los Angeles ranked fourth in terms of the nation’s most populous counties losing people in 2018. It seems the housing shortage end eye popping real estate prices are beginning to turn people away. Under the radar states like North Dakota are beginning to draw attention with a strong economic climate and low cost of living. Charlotte, Minneapolis, and Nashville—sometimes referred to as "18-hour cities"—are also attracting millennials with job opportunities and affordable housing. (The phrase 18-hours cities comes from the fact that these places don’t run on the same 24/7 mentality as New York and others like it.)

One city I like for relocation is Annapolis, Maryland. While it does have a high medium home price of $400,000, that price is down from last year and income is up $7,000. Memphis and El Paso are also cities that offer growing salaries with a comparatively low cost of living.

College debt is keeping many millennials from buying a home, even in these untapped markets. That doesn't stop me from saying, "Buy! Find a way to buy!" The returns on real estate can actually HELP pay down debt and accrue wealth. FHA Loans, house hacking and a number of other options exist to help with first time homebuyers. There are so many opportunities across the United State, I just hope millennials don't miss them due to misinformation and fear.

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