Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Oct. 27, 2021

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Survey: 80% of millennials would buy a home sight unseen

Pandemic has added to would-be buyers’ sense of urgency


Chanelle Bell is looking for a single-family home in the Beverly neighborhood after spending seven years in Hyde Park.

The native Californian said she’s looking to start a family within the next year, but she’s realized buying in her area is not feasible.

“That’s been really hard for me to really reconcile because I’ve never known living in Chicago, outside of this neighborhood, but I’m out-priced,” she said.

Bell, 28, is one of many millennials moving toward homeownership earlier than planned due to the pandemic. And she’s not alone: According to a recent survey by St. Louis-based Clever Real Estate, an online platform that refers homebuyers and sellers to agents who charge less commission, 30 percent of millennials say COVID-19 pushed them to begin house hunting earlier than planned.

The survey of 1,000 people on Jan.15 also revealed:

• 71 percent of millennials would be willing to buy a fixer-upper, and nearly 80 percent could be persuaded to buy a home sight unseen.

• 40 percent cited low interest rates as the reason they’re house hunting. In December 2020, Freddie Mac announced that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.66 percent.

• Millennials are looking for more space in their homes, around an average of 2,400 square feet, compared with 1,700 square feet last year.

• 77 percent of millennials surveyed have student debt, but since the pandemic reduced socializing, millennials have more savings – more than $10,000, on average.

• 52 percent of millennials are stressed and anxious about homeownership.

Nick Libert, CEO and owner of Chicago-based Exit Strategy Realty, agrees with the findings. He said millennials have been a huge part of the market, as older clients move out of the area for retirement and millennials buy their homes – their first home or a move-up property.

Libert is helping Lakeview East resident Josh Green, 32, find his first home.

“They’re realizing they can afford a lot more than they could a year ago. They’re feeling more confident in their jobs than they were at the beginning of COVID, and they have saved up money,” Libert said of millennials like Green. “It’s just a whole different dynamic than it was before.”

Green said he’s leaning into buying a home because it has to serve more purposes than it did before, including his newfound love of baking.

“I’m just more sensitive to how my home needs to look and feel,” Green said. “Now my home has to be my office, sometimes my gym and sometimes my dance floor and sometimes my safe space for friends, so I need to accommodate many other facets of my life.”

Bell can relate. The pandemic changed a lot for her and her husband – from increasing their savings to reducing their credit card debt. Bell said they were able to save money more rapidly because repayment of her student loan debt was put on hold. The Education Department suspended federal student loan payments through Sept. 30.

“It just seemed like possibly the perfect storm to take buying seriously,” Bell said. “But it is scary. Houses are selling super fast. That gives me a little bit of anxiety.”