By Ryan Velez
It’s become a common joke, but not without a bit of truth, that buying a home as a millennial is more of a dream than an attainable goal, between lower opportunity for pay, higher property costs, and debt from student loans. However, Chase Bank is trying to change the conversation with its “The Evolution of Homebuying” series, showing evolving trends and insights. The latest article shows exactly how one millennial managed to buy a home by herself.
Granted, the home in question may not have made the best first impression, a duplex in Detroit’s Virginia Park neighborhood. But for 26-year old Aisha Blake, it was exactly the type of neighborhood she was looking for. "I loved the first impression I had of that community, and it cemented my decision to buy it and fix it up on my own," says Blake. Blake is part of a larger trend of single American women buying homes by themselves. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 17 percent of all homebuyers last year were single women. This is double the amount of men doing so, despite the fact that men earn more on average. This coincides with the trend of millennials now becoming of home-buying age.
"With job growth holding steady and credit conditions becoming somewhat less stringent than in past years, the willingness and opportunity to buy is becoming more feasible for many single women," the NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said in the October 2016 report.
Blake’s journey to get the home was a bit unconventional, winning a $13,700 bid in May 2015 on a site run by the Detroit Land Bank Authority, where residents can bid on abandoned homes. Of course, the real price here was fixing up the house, and Blake budgeted $120,000 to make the 1914 home livable. This is common in Detroit, where the Great Recession forced many people to leave their homes, letting them fall into disrepair. However, getting the place fixed up has not been without its headaches, like replacing all the windows or opening up walls to fix the electrical wiring.
"Every time my contractor found something wrong, it meant so much more was taken out of the loan," Blake says. So far, fixing the house has put her over budget by $15,000, which she paid out of pocket. Her current plan, once the upper unit is available, is to live there and rent out a room to pay for initial upgrades, including a new deck. Eventually, she hopes to make it a couch surfing space, where travelers can stay to learn more about Detroit.
"I love hosting, and it really disappoints me when people say they would never visit Detroit because they think it's dangerous," she says.