When people think of members of the “Millennial” generation (18-34 year olds), they tend to conjure up a mental image of a young, fresh out of college, adult struggling to find work and still living at home with his or her parents. Well, according to new sales data from Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate Services in Bronxville, it may be time to change the way we think of Millennials when it comes to real estate.
Houlihan & O’Malley reported that in 2013 and 2014, an average of 40 percent of its clientele were Millennials. This is an impressive increase from 2012 when Millennials represented only 28 percent of the firm’s client base. The trend is also being observed at a national level. According to the 2015 National Association of Realtors Home Buyers and Seller Generational Trends study, Millennials are now officially the largest group of homebuyers in the country. They represent 32 percent of all buyers, surpassing “Generation X” (35 to 49-year-olds) who account for just 27 percent of buyers.
According to Joe Houlihan, Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate Services’ managing partner, this trend could be due to the recently improving economy. “Many Millennials endured underemployment and subpar wages during the recession, but now they are advancing in their careers and feel more secure,” says Houlihan. “They see themselves getting raises and promotions, and that encourages them to start looking for a home.” He also credits the ideal market as part of the reason, saying, “With interest rates perched at such low levels, now is a great time to buy a house because the mortgage payment might actually be cheaper than renting.”
Westchester County, in particular, is reaping the benefits of this Millennial real estate boom, says O’Malley, who notes many of its Millennial clients are moving up to Westchester from various parts of New York City. A reason for this is that Millennials at the older side of the age range are beginning to start families and want to trade in the big city for Westchester suburbs and all of the amenities that they provide, including, “excellent schools, short commutes into Grand Central, high-quality facilities… and vibrant downtowns,” says Houlihan.
Another unexpected finding of the National Association of Realtors study, was that Millennials are using less technology to find homes than expected. The study states that 90 percent of Millennials used a real estate agent to help them find their homes. Millennials are considered to be technologically inclined and accustomed to using apps and websites to fulfill many of their needs, so it is a bit of a surprise to see them rely on agents so heavily. According to Houlihan, “Millennials are very savvy and realize that, while they can initially look for a home online, nothing can replace the professional expertise, insights, and guidance of a local, professional realtor in helping them navigate the complicated process of purchasing a home.”