A few weeks ago, we heard a term that was new to us: “emerging adulthood.” It was defined as the life stage where young adults in their 20s take time to find themselves. Otherwise known as the time when kids graduate from college and move home because they don’t know what the heck they want to do with their lives. We have a student like that graduating this spring, so this topic is definitely of interest to our family.
It got us thinking about the millennial generation and first-time home buyers. A lot has been written about this generation’s barrier to home ownership due to school debt, high unemployment, and tight lending standards. But times they are a changing. For one, the recent loosening of credit conditions is making it easier for first-time buyers to secure a mortgage. Secondly, economists say that all of the jobs that were lost locally during the Great Recession have now returned. In fact, Seattle’s unemployment rate is now at levels we haven’t seen since before the 2008 financial crash.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about kids graduating from college with absolutely no job prospects, but in some cities, like Seattle, things appear to be getting a lot better. In fact, the National Association of REALTORS® recently published the top five most affordable cities for millennial home buyers based upon home prices, unemployment rates, and income growth. Seattle was number four. In part, we can thank the growth spurts of local companies like Amazon for this, as well as several Silicon Valley-based behemoths that have taken up residence in Seattle. All of this is helping create a solid job market.
First-time home buyers are critical to the health of the overall market; they’re the vital first link in the all-important housing chain. So it’s encouraging to see that lending standards are loosening, and Seattle’s employment outlook is sunny. It makes us optimistic that the dream of homeownership won’t die with the millennial generation. And that the housing market will continue to strengthen. It also gives us hope that, someday, our soon-to-be college graduate will find somewhere other than our basement to call home.