A new study suggests that more millennials in Bakersfield are buying homes compared to most other areas of the country, but some local realtors said they haven’t noticed such a trend.
Financial advice company SmartAsset ranked Bakersfield number three in its list of the top 10 cities across the nation where millennials are buying the most homes. Nearly 37 percent of Bakersfield households were owned by millennials in 2016, according to the report.
The percentage nearly matches the 2007 rate, when the housing industry was booming prior to the Great Recession.
Bakersfield was only beaten by Chesapeake, Virginia, in the number-two spot and Olathe, Kansas, taking the top spot. Both had rates of more than 50 percent, according to the study. The rankings were developed from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 and 2016 American Community Surveys.
Millennials often are defined as being those born in 1980s and 1990s.
Midge Jimerson, realtor for Boydstun Realty Co. and former president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors, said she doesn’t believe millennials are buying more homes in town, however.
“Most of them don’t want the responsibility of owning a house. They want to keep renting,” she said. “A lot of them like the fact that they can be versatile, they can move around. They’re not tied to anything.”
According to a recent report from ApartmentList.com, renting is up 3.1 percent in Bakersfield from a year ago. Renting is also cheaper here with a median cost of $930 a month for a two-bedroom residence compared to the national average of $1,160.
Nationwide, the study said that most millennials are renting compared to previous generations. Only 34.7 percent of millennials owned homes in 2016, according to Census Bureau data.
Jimerson said the economy is also a big factor in the lack of response from millennials.
While the economy has been getting better over the past few years, she believes some millennials aren’t buying homes or are putting off buying a home because they haven’t gotten the job they want or aren’t in a place in their career where they feel comfortable being a homeowner.
College graduates have “grandiose” ideas about the kind of jobs they think they’ll get because they have a degree, Jimerson said.
Mike Hinojos, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Preferred, said he also hasn’t seen an upward trend in millennial homebuyers in Bakersfield.
“I think it’s low compared to previous generations,” he said. “They come to us in spurts, so it’s hard to tell for sure, but it’s not something I’ve noticed.”
Hinojos said he believes a big reason for that could be that home interest rates and the median price for a home have been steadily rising in Bakersfield. He said interest rates are around 4 percent.
“I don’t think a lot of millennials can afford houses right now,” Hinojos said. “They’re not making enough money from their jobs. I’m waiting for them to call me.”
Carrie Cullifer, general manager for Stratton Davis Realty, said she’s just starting to see millennials express more seriousness about buying a home.
“More and more of them are getting motivated. They’re trying to get themselves together,” she said.
Cullifer said she believes the general home affordability in Bakersfield compared to other areas of the state will draw more millennials in as the economy continues to improve.
Bakersfield’s $221,000 median home price is considerably less than the $524,000 state average, according to data from real estate marketplace Zillow.com. However, Bakersfield’s median price is still higher than the national average of $206,000.
“Most people who live in Bakersfield can probably afford to buy a house here, including millennials,” Cullifer said.
To see the SmartAsset report, visit http://bit.ly/2Fns2i1.