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Tips for Gen X and Gen Y home buyers

Published: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 8:55 a.m. CDT

According to a recent survey, people who belong to the Generation X and Generation Y demographics haven’t been deterred by the housing market downturn at all.

A Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate survey found that 75 percent of Gen X and Y respondents believe owning a home is a key indicator of success; 69 percent said the recent housing downturn made them more knowledgeable about homeownership than their parents were at their age.

And it turns out that Gen X-ers and Y-ers are more motivated than some older generations give them credit for. The survey revealed that Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers are willing to take second jobs (40 percent said they would) or move in with their parents (23 percent) in order to buy into the American Dream of owning a home.

The real estate market during the past five years was certainly scary, especially for younger and less experienced home buyers. And so, a lot of people in Gen X and Gen Y sat on the sidelines. But the market has definitely bounced back, and many believe that now is a great time to buy. You just have to be savvy about it.

Here are five tips to help Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers buy into the American Dream.

Have a five-year plan

Unlike the boom years, don’t assume a home purchased today will appreciate in value within five years. If you’re unsure about your five-year plans, it’s better to rent.

Use technology creatively

It’s well-documented that Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers start their home search online. Real estate listings sites, mortgage calculators and valuation tools such as Zillow’s Zestimate® home value are typically places a buyer starts. But, once you’re in the market, there are tons of online resources. Less obvious tools, such as Google Street View, can help, too. It once helped a client realize that the home she wanted to buy in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood may not be as safe as she thought. Google Street View revealed that there were previously bars on the windows of the ground-floor apartment.

Beware of information overload

Using the Internet and apps, home buyers today have an unprecedented amount of data available. Sometimes, however, it’s too much and can cause the buyer to shoot themselves in the foot. For example, a buyer might learn that the seller stands to make a 10 percent profit in a short amount of time. Even though the profit is in line with current market values, that information might cause the buyer to make a low offer and kick themselves a month later for missing out on a great house.

Don’t assume you don’t need a real estate agent

Because so much information is online, many Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers might think they can buy a home on their own. However, the role of the agent is no longer about finding the listings. It’s about presenting the offer and getting it accepted, getting through inspections and getting the deal done. A real estate transaction can go 50 different ways now. A good agent will steer a buyer on the right path. A savvy agent will know the ins and outs of any local market better than an uninformed buyer with a full-time job and family. It’s their business to be in the know, and it’s what they do all day long. Experienced agents will have a strong network in the local market that can give you the added edge. Good agents like to work with other good agents. Finally, keep in mind that a listing agent might not even consider working with an unrepresented buyer.

Look for opportunities to increase the home’s value

Baby boomers and preceding generations could more or less count on staying in their homes for many years and, in turn, their homes’ steady increase in value over time. After the market downturn, however, that’s not the case. Because they’re so mobile, Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers in particular should steer clear of buying the best home on the best block. Instead, look for ways to add value. Look at homes that don’t show well, are marketed poorly or are outdated. Don’t be afraid of doing light remodeling or making smart improvements that will add value. If you have to sell your home sooner than you’d planned, you’re covered.

Related:

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor, a regular HGTV contributor and one of the nation’s leading real estate experts. He has collaborated on multiple real estate books and his expert advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets like FOX News, CNBC and Forbes. An avid investor, Brendon owns real estate around the US and abroad and is licensed to sell in both California and New York. You can find Brendon online or follow him on Twitter.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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