JOB DESCRIPTION: President and CEO of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes. He has spent 40 years in the real estate market.
By ALICE THORSON
The Kansas City Star
Q. Your firm recently did a survey about the Gen XY real estate buying market. I want to talk to you about that, but first, tell me your assessment of how the KC market in general is doing relative to the national market.
A. The overall market in Kansas City (per Heartland Multiple Listing Service MLS, the local multiple listings service of all the properties listed in the five-county Kansas City area), is up 16.6 percent in 2012 over 2011, and BHG Kansas City Homes is up 27 percent over the prior year.
Q. Now, about those Gen X and Y buyers who range in age from 18 to 35. What percentage of the market do they make up?
A. Theyre growing, but we dont have precise figures. I think theres a perception that XY are renters and not interested in buying. Our survey shows 71 percent of that group value home ownership and look forward to it.
Q. Do they have a different financial outlook from older buyers?
A. Theyre very informed financially. I think that has a lot to do with the Internet. The percentage of people starting their search for a home on the Internet is now in the low 90 percentile. It rises each year. It has a lot to do with XY being knowledgeable. Whether they own a home or not, they know what they are going to do. (According to the survey), they believe if they owned a home, it said they were successful.
Q. Has the recent crisis in the housing market had an impact on XY?
A. They think, because of the (housing downturn) of the last few years, which is now turning around, that it is a good time for getting a good purchase price in a desirable neighborhood.
Q. Some members of these generations were raised by helicopter parents. Do you find that parents are often helping financially or are involved in other ways?
A. Theres co-signing going on, and the parents might help with the down payment. If the (young people) buy something distressed, the parents may help with repairs.
Q. Are there some common threads as to what theyre looking for in a house?
A. Theyre more into lifestyle than their parents. The three to four bedroom, two bath, two car garage was their parents search. XY are searching lifestyle: walking to the shops, a neighborhood with a pool. A lot of people are buying in the Rodrock communities. Theres often a pool and a cabana, walking trails and moms clubs. Those are a draw to young people because theres someplace to congregate.
Brookside and Prairie Village are also very young-oriented communities that XY seek. They can walk or ride their bikes to shops, restaurants, the grocery store.
Q. Is the so-called starter home still part of the picture?
A. Yes. A young couple in Prairie Village will frequently buy a two-bedroom, one-car garage, and maybe two years later move into a three-bedroom, two-bath home.
Q. Your survey reports: Nearly all those surveyed are willing to adjust their lifestyle to save for a home by eating out less (62 percent), working a second job (40 percent) or even moving back home with their parents (23 percent). Have you heard any response from parents about that?
A. Oh sure, Oh, here they come again. It doesnt last that long, I dont think its that prevalent, but it happens.
Q. What is your main piece of advice to young homebuyers?
A. To do their homework. To get on the Internet to search neighborhoods they like and to network with friends. Obviously, I recommend they get in touch with a Realtor to guide them through the process, and I think their parents would recommend that as well.
To reach Alice Thorson, call 816-234-4783 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.