If you're a millennial looking to buy an affordable home in an urban area, listen up: You might want to check out Buffalo, New York, which turns out to be the best city for this generation, at least according to one measure.
Millennials claimed more than half of Buffalo's mortgages in 2018, according to a survey by Realtor.com. Young professionals also claimed more than half of housing sales last year in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio.
Millennials have slowly been taking over the lion's share of homebuying from baby boomers and Generation X for years. The millennials are getting older, establishing themselves in their careers and settling down. Now, they're choosing homes in regions previous generations have not.
Their top priority? Affordability.
"When you look at the top markets, they're all good, affordable metro areas," said Javier Vivas, director of economic research at Realtor.com.
Young professionals can afford more in these markets. The median home value in Buffalo is just over $158,000. Contrast that to some of the nation's buzziest markets, where that median price can more than quadruple that figure. In Silicon Valley, homes sell for a median asking price of more than $1 million.
It takes on average only 25 percent of a young person's median income to purchase a home in these affordable cities, versus 31 percent nationally.
Attracting younger generations
Buffalo's affordability has always been a hallmark of its housing market, but the city has seen an increase in the number of young professionals in recent years, drawn in part by the area's growing private sector.
"It's sort of about time," said Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the region's chamber of commerce. "We've seen a number of people in that cohort who have moved into the area or didn't leave. For a long time, we saw people leave," Gallagher said.
Private sector jobs in Buffalo grew nearly 4 percent between 2011 and 2017. The population of young people in their 20s and early 30s rose about 6 percent between 2010 and 2016.
For Olivia Hill, 26, a business development specialist with Invest Buffalo Niagara, buying a home in North Buffalo just last week means she and her husband can take advantage of a smaller metropolitan area that isn't as expensive as the larger cities. They can be close to their friends, keep yard space for their dog and gain access to restaurants and nightlife.
Said Hill: "It's like a big city without the cost of a big city."