From the Record:
After two years of renting an $1,800-a-month studio apartment in Harlem, Sarah and Micaiah Fitzgerald decided it was time to buy a home.
“We just felt we were throwing money away by renting,” said Sarah Fitzgerald, a 35-year-old psychiatrist. “It became very clear that the way to keep a lot of that money in your pocket was owning your own space.” After just a few weeks of looking, she and her husband, a 44-year-old software engineer, recently bought a three-bedroom house in Teaneck for $380,000.
The Fitzgeralds are among a growing number of first-time buyers venturing into the housing market, as the more than 75 million members of the millennial generation — the most populous in U.S. history —start families and find brighter job prospects than in the years following the recession. East Brunswick appraiser Jeffrey Otteau, who tracks the housing market statewide, has estimated that 325,000 millennial buyers — those born starting in the early 1980s — will enter New Jersey’s housing market over the next decade.
Many young households delayed buying homes after the 2007-09 recession, which sent unemployment skyrocketing to 10 percent. Moreover, the accompanying housing crash dragged down home values, making houses seem like a risky investment.
Other people held off buying homes as they completed their educations and struggled to save for down payments in the face of student debt and high rents. Those delays may be one reason the median age of first-time buyers surveyed this year by the NAR rose to 32, up from 31 in the past five years.
Andrew and Kerribeth McKenna, who now live in Hoboken, love the easy commute to their financial-services jobs in New York City, but their two-bedroom rental is starting to feel a little crowded now that they are parents of a 1-year-old. So they’ve been looking for a house – first in the lake communities of Wayne, and more recently in Ridgewood.
“It’s a matter of space, and the cost of that space” in different places, said Andrew McKenna. “We could get a 1½- or 2-bedroom apartment in Hoboken for the cost of a whole house in Ridgewood.”