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ments and are obsessed with craft beer, millennials are actually a lot more like their older counterparts when it comes to wanting to own their own homes. “National studies are showing that millennials do want to own their homes, but of course, as everybody says anecdot- ally, they’re waiting longer to do it,” says Mel Jones, a research associate at the Vir- ginia Tech Center for Housing Research. In fact, the older millennials get, the


more likely they are to own a home, Jones says, noting that more than half of the old- est millennials own a home and 88 percent of that cohort own single-family detached homes. “Millennials have a strong prefer- ence for privacy,” she says, noting that census data and research show that mil- lennials prefer detached homes and home ownership — if they can afford it. Take Julia Lange, for example.


At 29, she says, “I really want to be a homeowner, but I’m not at a point in my life where it makes sense.” A customer service representative for a pest control company, she and her boyfriend rent a small, detached two-story home in downtown Fredericksburg that they share every other weekend with her boyfriend’s son from a previous relation- ship. Their combined income is around $80,000 a year. Lange, who holds a bachelor’s degree


in sociology from Mary Washington University, feels like her professional, personal and financial lives need to be more stable before she’s ready to make the jump into home ownership. “I feel like all the factors would have to be in place for me to make that decision, but at the same time one of my best friends is a Realtor, and she has emphasized that I’m really just throwing my money away [on rent] and I’d be better off putting that toward a mortgage. … I’m not super young anymore. I need to really find a career and start to get that moving along. I would much rather be putting money toward a mortgage than a rental.” Mary Dykstra, owner of Roanoke-


based MKB Realtors and a past presi- dent of the Virginia Association of Real- tors, blames the delay on “the life cycle. Unless they’re never planning on having a family, by the time you’re 31 or 32 you’re going to be thinking about kids,” she says, and that also means thinking about


Photo by Rick DeBerry


Nick Weishaar, 28, used an FHA loan that required a 3.5 percent down payment to buy an older home in Richmond for $230,000.


home ownership. Dykstra teaches a real estate class at


Virginia Tech and says her students typi- cally tell her they want to own a home with amenities like a big backyard, good school systems and a two-car garage. “It almost made me laugh out loud, because their dream house is what they grew up in,” she says. As far as barriers go, Dykstra and


others say that increased college debt loads and greater lending restrictions are concerns. Still, there are plenty of options for first-time homebuyers such as FHA loans that require lower down payments, or none at all, such as VA loans for veterans or some USDA loans. Millennial home shoppers also are


more likely to spend more and seek perfectionism, rather than buying a starter home that needs a little TLC, Dykstra says. Since it’s more difficult for new homeowners to obtain home equity lines, they’re more likely to spend more on a home that’s polished and move-in- ready than one that requires renovations.


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Tired of waiting for repairs Software engineer Nick Weishaar,


28, purchased a three-bedroom, two- bathroom detached home in Richmond’s Museum District for $230,000 four years ago. Though the home was built in 1924, it came with central air and a detached garage for his motorcycle, features that were important to him. He doesn’t mind making improvements, such as replacing an old claw-foot bath- tub. Mainly he was tired of arguing with his landlords about trying to get repairs made. “I wanted my own place so I could do what I wanted with it.” Weishaar purchased his home with an FHA loan with 3.5 percent down. His down payment and closing costs came out to a little over $10,000. He was able to save up most of that amount while working in France for his business for several months when he was receiving a per diem for all his living expenses. “I’m very good with my money. I


don’t really spend it on a lot of random stuff,” he says. “I’ve never bought a new


VIRGINIA BUSINESS 89


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