A new generation is driving the U.S. housing market forward, faced with new challenges but holding to some traditional values when buying a new home.
"I believe the millennials are coming of age and they are coming of age later," said Martin Rueter, president of Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, on Wednesday. "But they are now pushing that 30-year age mark and coming out of the woodwork buying houses."
The large student loan debt many millennials have incurred is one of the chief barriers to their buying homes, but low-interest rates on home mortgages are helping mitigate that to some extent, Rueter said.
As president of Weichert Real Estate, Rueter has a national perspective on the housing market, which is in the fifth year of a sustained post-Recession recovery.
In June, the National Association of Realtors reported existing-home sales sprang ahead in May to their highest pace in almost a decade, growing to 5.53 million, a 4.5 percent increase from the year-ago month.
Last week, Rueter was in Northwest Indiana to welcome the Wold Realty, of Schereville, to the Weichert Real Estate fold as its newest affiliate. Weichert Realtors - Wold Group joins over 330 Weichert franchisee offices in 39 states nationwide.
The association with Weichert Real Estate will provide Wold Group sales agents with more opportunities when it comes to training, leads and ultimately sales, said Tom Wold, who owns the agency along with his sister, Teresa Joyce.
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In Northwest Indiana, the market is being driven in large part by Illinois residents crossing the border to make the Hoosier state their new home, Wold said. Historically low interest rates are making it easier for those people and other buyers, whether they be first-time buyers or baby-boomers downsizing, Wold said.
Right now, it remains a sellers' market in most regions of the nation, Rueter said. Demand is outpacing supply mainly because builders are not providing enough new housing stock, with many still hesitant or unable to build at the pace they did a decade ago.
As for the millenials, they are finding what they want with the right help from sale agents, but it takes careful shopping, Rueter said.
Unlike their forebears, many are looking to move into cities or places with urban amenities like walkable shopping districts and nearby schools. And with the Internet, they often have selected the houses they want to see long below walking into a Realtor's office.
But their reasons for buying remain traditional.
"When you buy a home, you are not just buying a house," Rueter said. "You are buying into a community, you are buying into its schools."