Millennial Home Ownership is Finally on the Rise

Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is part of the millennial generation. For many years, millennials weren’t buying homes at the same rates as previous generations. In 2019, only 43% of millennials owned homes, which was well below the national average of 65% when taking every other generation into account.

Even though millennials were old enough to purchase homes in 2019 (23 to 38 years old), there are numerous factors that have caused this generation to avoid buying homes at the same rate as previous generations. However, 2022 marks a notable change in millennial homeownership.

What Kept Millennials From Buying Homes?
There are many reasons why millennials haven’t purchased homes at the same rate as other generations. Some of the primary factors that have contributed to less interest in homeownership among millennials include:

  • Entering the job market during the Great Recession
  • Higher amounts of debt from student loans
  • Stagnant wages
  • Delayed marriage
  • Rising home prices
  • Low inventory

The financial challenges that many young adults have were exacerbated by the fallout from the Great Recession. Keep in mind that 40% of all unemployed individuals in 2009 were between the ages of 15-24 years old. The federal minimum wage has been at $7.25 since 2009 despite some states increasing their minimum wages. Even though the cost of living has increased substantially over the past few decades, median wages only grew by around 0.3% each year from 2007-2017. These factors combined to make it more difficult for millennials to buy homes.

Why Millennial Homeownership is Increasing
When the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, buying a home became more appealing as a result of the reduced monthly payments. It wasn’t until 2022, however, that millennials started buying homes at a higher rate than anticipated. While only 43% of all millennials owned a home in 2019, this same age group has accounted for around 43% of homebuyers in 2022.

What this data tells us is that millennials are now the primary generation that’s buying homes. The vice president of demographics for the National Association of Realtors, Jessica Lautz, believes that “Some young adults have used the pandemic to their financial advantage by paying down debt and cutting the cost of rent by moving in with family.” By saving up money during the first two years of the pandemic, millennials who were in a poor financial situation before the pandemic may now be at a point where they can afford to buy a home.

Millennials are also aging into more financial security, with steadier jobs and higher incomes in their 30’s and 40’s. Rising home prices haven’t helped, but homeownership rates increase considerably when looking at millennials who are around the age of 40. An increase in remote work post-pandemic has also allowed more millennials and Gen Zers to move to smaller, more affordable cities and improve their homebuying prospects.

In the coming months, it will be interesting to see what happens as interest rates continue to rise. Even though housing prices have increased by nearly 19% since March 2021, this clearly hasn’t caused millennials to become less eager to become homeowners.

Selling your home this spring? A Starter To-Do List.

Invest in Buyers’ Favorite: Exterior Lighting
Are you planning to sell your home this spring? Start preparing now! Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Have Your Home Pre-Inspected by a Professional Home Inspector
One of the most common reasons a home sale falls apart (or the closing is delayed) is problems uncovered during the home inspection. Typically, price negotiations will reopen, but if the problems are beyond the buyer’s budget, they may just walk away from the deal.

If you have your home pre-inspected now, you will have the advantage of avoiding unpleasant surprises in the middle of the transaction. Plus, you’ll have the rest of winter to get repair projects out of the way. 

Get a Head Start on Curb Appeal
Most landscaping tasks will have to wait until spring, but if you have inside space and a sunny window, you can get a head start by growing your own flowers from seed. Just wait until after the last frost to plant them outside.

You can also consider touching-up any chipped paint on doors and trim, creating an outdoor seating area, or updating your front door hardware. Replacing a worn mailbox, installing new house numbers, and purchasing a new front porch doormat are more great ways to spruce up your curb appeal.

Declutter & Donate
If your home is overwhelmed with personal items, has closets bursting at the seams, and furniture blocking the flow, there is a clutter problem. Clutter sends the message to a potential buyer that your home lacks space and ample storage. Start the process now to rid your home of furniture, housewares, clothing, books, and papers that are no longer of use. It’s a win-win: you will have less to move and it will help sell your home. 

Invest in Buyers’ Favorite Features
The National Association of Home Builders surveyed prospective home buyers and learned that the top two desired features in a home are a laundry room and exterior lighting. How to get started? For your laundry room (or nook or closet), take this opportunity to add function. Consider adding a shelf, storage cabinet, or a wall-mounted drying rack.

As your luck would have it, wireless lighting has come a long way thanks to advancements in power and power storage technologies. Does your home have a path that could some extra visibility? A side yard that could use a motion sensor light? Shine some light on those darker areas to delight prospective buyers.

2022 Housing Market Forecast

A strong seller’s market is predicted.  Buyers will have more opportunity to find the home of their dreams also forecasted.

Leading indicators, including research published from REIN and Housing Wire, point to 2022 being competitive. While the demand may be there, the inventory just isn’t what it was years ago. also weighed in with news more favorable to the buyer. They predict home buyers will have a better chance to find a home in 2022, but will face a competitive seller’s market as first-time buyer demand outmatches the inventory recovery.

If you or someone you know is considering putting their home on the market, Spring 2022 may be just the right time to take the plunge. But…start planning now! Contact me for a market analysis and guidance to ready your home to receive top-dollar offers.  All consultations are no charge. 

If you are ready to buy but you’re not sure what you can afford, check out REIN’s mortgage calculator to help estimate possible monthly payments. In a tight market, it is important to get your financial house in order ASAP and to start working with a realtor® ASAP.  I can refer you to a trusted mortgage partner to guide you through the financing / pre-approval process so you can present the strongest offer for the home of your dreams.

2021 A Banner Year for Bilane Team

The numbers tell the story!
Last year was indeed very busy. I had the great pleasure of guiding countless families buy and/or sell their homes in 2021.That’s over $8.6 million in real estate transactions — a new annual record for me. While surpassing my professional goals is extremely rewarding, I am more thrilled with the fantastic results I was able to achieve for all my sellers and the wonderful homes I helped secure on behalf of my buyers (especially in such a competitive market). Highlights of our 2021 numbers include:

  • Settled Sales: $8.6 million (a personal record for me)
  • Median Sales Price: $470,000 (52% higher than Hampton Roads Market Average)
  • Average Listing Sold Price: $479,000 (28% higher than Hampton Roads Market Average)
  • Average Days on Market: 11.7 days (51% higher than Hampton Roads Market Average)
  • List to Sales Price Ratio – 100.03% (6.5% higher than Hampton Roads Market Average)

Business Goals for 2022
I’m excited to apply the experiences from last year’s success and to continue building the valuable business partnerships in mortgage, legal, photography, videography, appraisals, inspections, and contracting spheres. The table is set to exceed this year’s numbers while still being personally involved in every transaction for my buyers and sellers.

Freshen Up Your Fireplace

It’s getting chilly out there! If you’ve been thinking that your fireplace could use a facelift, there’s no time like the present. Here are a few suggestions on how to give your fireplace a makeover before the coldest days of the year set in, so you can enjoy the new look all winter long.

1. Paint it
Nothing transforms a space more quickly and easily than paint, and that applies to fireplaces too. If you have outdated red brick on your fireplace, a few coats of white, black, or gray paint can transform it from an eyesore to a showstopper. You can knock this project out in an afternoon. First use a wire brush to clean the brick, then apply an oil-based primer, then apply the paint color of your choice. Done!

2. Whitewash it
A subtler touch than paint, whitewashing can lighten up a dark fireplace and brighten up a room in the process. With whitewashing, you’ll skip priming the brick surface and simply apply a mixture of white paint diluted with water. Just make sure to test the mixture in an inconspicuous location on your fireplace before painting the entire surface.

“While painting over brick with 100 percent latex paint will give the brick a solid, opaque color, whitewashing mutes the brick’s natural color with a translucent finish. The technique preserves the bricks’ natural, random variations,” says Bob Vila.

3. Consider a stone veneer
With manufactured cast stone masonry blocks, you don’t need to be a stone mason to get an incredible look for your fireplace. Cast stone blocks are manufactured in a variety of shapes and styles that mimic natural types of stone. The product looks like real rock but is easier to cut with a saw at home and is designed to bond to a surface with mortar.

While not exactly an afternoon project, adding a stone veneer to your fireplace can be tackled and completed in a weekend’s time.

4. Add a floating mantel
Create a decorative focal point for your fireplace by adding a mantel. Options here are endless: use a solid wood beam for a cottage feel, match existing furniture with a manufactured shelf, or double up with an upper and lower deck. A floating mantel can be installed in an afternoon; just make sure to use proper anchors in whatever surface you’re attaching to.

Put Down Roots this Fall

Spring is often thought of as the best time for planting, but planting in the fall can offer some significant advantages for your plants. Below are some reasons why fall is the best time for planting perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Perfect Planting Weather
The cooler weather of fall is easier for plants and gardeners alike. The ground isn’t dry or frozen, and temperatures are mild and enjoyable. Your plants aren’t stressed out by extreme conditions, so they acclimate to their new environment quicker. Plus, you can tend to them without excessive sweating or sunburn!Plaid and roots, that's what fall is about

Flexibility and Rampant Roots
There is no need to rush to prevent plants from drying up in their containers or delay because the ground is too hot. You can plant whenever is convenient for you.

As for trees, planting them when they’ve lost their leaves is actually better, as they won’t have to exert energy growing leaves and can focus on growing roots. This is the biggest fall advantage – plants can grow better roots, which allows for gorgeous foliage and blooms come springtime.

Lower Maintenance, Lower Bills
Cooler weather means less frequent watering. You can relax with more free time, a lower water bill, and the knowledge that your plant babies will not shrivel and roast in the heat of the day.

A good tip for planting in the fall is to water the plants in their pots a few hours before you transport them to their new homes. This lets them soak up water and be better prepared for planting. Pre-water the hole they’ll be placed in as well.

Devise Your Plant Plan
Fall allows you to see sparse areas of your garden that need more foliage. It is the best time to plan out next year’s garden and get a head start on planting. You’ll know exactly how the other plants look at full bloom and how much space they take up, allowing you to add pops of color where you know you need it.

Supply Sales
Gardening supplies are typically at their peak prices in spring, but prices drop in fall when shops need to clear space and some even close their business for the winter. Fall is a great time to shop for non-perishable supplies, seeds, and even some bulbs. You can often get gardening tools at discounted prices along with some fertilizers, netting, pebbles, and similar things. Watch out for sales on pots and containers too!

Winter is Coming… 5 Important Maintenance Items to Prepare Your Home

Even though we are enjoying the picture-perfect days of fall, it’s time to start preparing your home for winter. Here are five important home maintenance activities to start working on in the coming weeks.

1) Check your chimney
Make sure everything is in order before the first fire of the season. “Creosote buildup causes chimney fires,” says Family Handyman. “You should have your chimney professionally inspected or cleaned after every 70 fires. Don’t remember the last time you had it cleaned by a pro? A quick way to tell if your chimney needs cleaning is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner. If you find a 1/8” layer (or more) of buildup, call a chimney sweep.”

2) Check your roof
Storms, wind, and other weather conditions over the past year could have done damage that you’re not aware of. Don’t wait until the first heavy snow to find out you have a leak. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder or just want a professional eye, a pro roofer will typically charge a reasonable amount to check it out.

3) Seal it up
There are three important reasons to make sure your home is air tight: 1) Keeping moisture out; 2) Keeping critters out; 3) Keeping warm air in. Fall is when pests begin to look for places to ride out the winter, so make sure your exterior is free of gaps and holes that will allow for unwanted houseguests. Sealing up holes and cracks can also make your home more efficient — saving you money and keeping you warm and cozy. In most cases all you need is weather stripping and caulk.

4) Disconnect garden hoses from faucets
As soon as the weather dips, it’s time to disconnect and drain hoses. This simple task can potentially save you a lot of heartache later. “Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the pipes just inside your exterior walls,” says HouseLogic. “If freezing temps hit, that water can freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes.” Also, make sure to drain your hoses before storing them. This prevents cracking during the cold winter months.

5) And, of course, clean your gutters
Depending on the weather and the foliage from surrounding trees, you may need to clean your gutters more than once throughout the fall. Your gutters are your best ally when it comes to moving moisture away from your home, so it’s critical to keep them free of obstruction.

Decorating your home. Save or splurge?

When decorating your home, saving money is great. Bargain-hunting does have its limits and the impulse to save now might cost you in the long run. Here are a couple places to splurge and a couple ways to save when decorating your home.

Furniture is a mixed bag. You can get away with an inexpensive coffee table found at a vintage store, or score a killer deal on a dining table. But when it comes to upholstery, proceed with caution — especially with large pieces. Cheap textiles can pill, rip, wear out easily, and stain permanently. Plus, the material often gets scratchy and uncomfortable.

If you consider the amount of space a sofa occupies, and how often you’re using it, it’s best not to cut corners. Spring for something with quality construction and materials, and it could last 15 years or more. That being said, furniture manufacturers are facing the same supply chain and labor issues that are impacting the prices of many consumer goods right now. If you are considering splurging on a sofa this year, it might be best to sit tight and wait for things to cool off.

Skimp out on your flooring and you may find yourself needing to replace it prematurely—or live with the consequences of a poor choice. Everything from thin wood, to poor adhesive, to carpet that won’t stand up to kids and pets, can cause problems sooner than you expect. Save yourself the time, money, and headache, and pay to get it done right the first time.

Area rugs are one of the best items for bargain hunters because there are myriad options that are both durable and affordable. A natural sisal rug can hide the appearance of dirt and take a beating, but at a price point that won’t make you cry when your pet has an accident. Flatweave wool rugs are another popular-yet-affordable option.

When in doubt, just consider the room your rug is going in. Is there a lot of foot traffic? Pet and kid access? Potential for food or drink spills? If the answer is yes to any of the above, it’s best to save money and go with something inexpensive and replaceable.

Vacation with Peace of Mind

Ready to finally take that extended vacation this summer? Since it may be a while since you last traveled, here are a few helpful reminders to help prepare your home against mishaps while you are away.

Set Your Thermostat
If you have an AC, heat pump, or evaporative cooling unit, leave it on to prevent mold, mildew, and other conditions caused by heat and humidity. Adjusting your thermostat up to 4 degrees higher than normal reduces energy use while still having the unit run periodically. If feasible, invest in a smart thermostat. This will allow you to monitor and control conditions at home via an app on your phone.

Turn Water Off
When you are going to be away for an extended period, it’s a good idea to turn off your main water line. This can prevent plumbing leaks from occurring in your absence — which otherwise could result in significant water damage and costly repairs. After shutting off the main water valve, let your kitchen and bathroom faucets run dry, ensuring that water is not left in the pipes.

If shutting the water off isn’t an option due to sprinklers or other circumstances, consider investing in some water leak detection sensors. Modern water detectors connect to your smartphone and will notify you if a leak is detected.  And since kits start at around $40, they can be a smart investment whether you’re traveling or not.

Empty the Fridge, Take Out the Trash
No one wants to come home to a moldy, stinky science experiment in their fridge! So make sure to dump anything perishable from the refrigerator and take the garbage out. 

Double Down on Smart Security
As with water sensors and smart thermostats, other smart security devices are now more affordable than ever. To give the appearance that someone is home, use smart plugs to toggle lights, fans, or a radio while you’re away. Also consider a smart security system. Modern systems feature contract-free, affordable monitoring, quick DIY installation, and remote monitoring notifications.