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 Chicago Bungalows - Portage Park Neighborhod Chicago IL

Retail Industry Specialists, including Maxine Lauer of Sphere Trending in MI, refer to the teen-aged-to-mid-thirties-set as "Generation Now."  Perhaps you are intimately acquainted with the prevailing attitude of many younger consumers:  "They want what they want . . . and they want it NOW!"

Lauer's thoughts, as reported by Chicago Tribune Real Estate Reporter Mary Umberger, in the May 4, 2012 edition of The Trib,  confirms what Dean's Team Chicago, and many of our Real Estate Colleagues and Students, have seen first-hand - many young people are delaying some of life's most important decisions. 

Up until recently, it was those in their 20's who began contemplating lifetime thoughts like marriage, family, planned career, and a home ownership strategy.  Homebuyers in Chicago often started with small condos or fixer-up homes, followed by increasingly-larger condos, then single-family homes, within a few years, as their relationship and household size typically grew.

But, in today's shifting economy, attitudes, and behavior, seems to have changed.  Entry-level jobs are often harder to come by, as older Baby Boomers are retiring later.  Marriage and family - sometimes delayed until recent graduates find good-paying jobs, with enough money to cover ever-higher Student Loan Balances.  And, without short-term stability, more young people are renting longer, rather than taking what they see as a somewhat-risky plunge into home ownership in a Turbulent Real Estate Market in Chicago, and elsewhere.

Others elect to stay at home with their parents longer, rather than move away.   Many did all they could to avoid staying at home, not even a generation ago.  Today, any stigma associated with living with Mother and Dad has lessened with its new-found popularity - and parents are often welcoming back their recent grads, hoping that a rebounding economy will give them a more solid foundation down the road.  Most explain their recent return to the nest as a sure way to bank more money for that Housing Down Payment, at the right time.

According to Lauer, many younger homebuyers are opting to begin with a single-family home right away, rather than moving up from condos or small homes, as was the case several years back.  A sizable chunk of recent grads - 35% - move back to an Urban Environment comfortable to them.  Many attempt cosmetic renovations on older homes - such as 1920's to 1950's Brick Bungalows and Classic English Tudors.  Here in Chicago, this might bode well for the Chicago Neighborhoods of Old Irving, Portage Park, Ravenswood, and Norwood Park, and older suburbs such as Evanston, Oak Park, and parts of Park Ridge, Mount Prospect, and Arlington Heights IL.  Each area comes chock full of solid, vintage housing stock.

Many young homebuyers like the "authenticity" of these older homes, suggests Lauer.  They see them as uniquely styled, warm and homey, and of superior craftsmanship than some of the newer suburban tract homes many grew up in.

Unlike the "Tim the Tool Man" set of the 1980's and 1990's, however, many younger homebuyers have little idea on how to renovate an older home - but they do have a willingness to learn, and to work hard for their "sweat equity."  It's also no surprise that they want the classic look outside, and brand new kitchen and bath updates inside.  They like Open Floor Plans, alongside the unpainted vintage woodwork and trim..

Lauer sees a continuing surge of interest in city homes, in close-in, but not-yet-too-expensive neighborhoods.  Or, for those concerned about top schools, close-ring suburbs, not too far from the bustle of the city.  She sees more distant suburbs, and less distinctive homes, losing some popularity longer term.

In addition, Lauer mentions a different outlook of younger home buyers.  With the recent collapse of home prices in many neighborhoods they like, they look at a home purchase not as merely a build-your-nest egg investment, but as a long-term commitment.  They have shed much of the optimism of their parents, who lived with what seemed like decades of unabated growth, in income, and home equity.   Many are opting for a more studied approach, more risk averse.

Indeed, times have changed.  Likely, a different breed of consumer, and homeowner, will emerge from today's economy.  And, in the opinion of many in the older generation . . . that might be a good thing!



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