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VOL. 118 | NO. 112 | Thursday, June 24, 2004

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Low Rates Push More Newlyweds to Buy

Summer real estate market characterized by younger buyers


The Daily News

With springtime turning to summer, it means busy season for the wedding industry.

According to The Daily News Public Records Database, www.memphisdailynews.com, more marriage licenses are filed in the months of May and June than at any other time of year, meaning wedding planners and related retailers are busy right now. But the trend affects more than wedding-related businesses the real estate industry also is affected by the areas number of newlyweds.

Buying, not renting. Realtors welcome business from newlyweds, especially now, with low mortgage interest rates driving more young buyers into the housing market.

I have seen a number of newly married people that were buying their first home after just being married, or right before they get married, said Grace Uhlhorn, an associate broker with ERA Chamberwood.

If newlyweds are buying homes, more than likely, theyre young buyers. Of the 6,724 brides who filed for marriage licenses between June 1, 2003, and May 31, 2004, 3,099 were between the ages of 20 and 29. Another 1,826 were between 30 and 39.

And these couples are realizing that low mortgage interest rates mean buying a home makes more sense than renting an apartment.

Once they get married, there are two incomes in the family, and if theyve both had an apartment, they start looking at how much the bills were, said Bebe McWaters of McWaters & Associates. To buy a house with interest rates still low, I think they can have a home and enjoy owning a home for less than they can rent an apartment. Of course, they cant buy a mansion at first. They need a starter home.

Looking to the suburbs. And many of those starter homes if couples are looking for new construction are in the Cordova area. The 38016 ZIP code contained the second-highest number of marriage license filings last year at 159.

Young couples are still looking to suburban communities for a first home. But that scenario usually depends on family planning. For couples looking to have children soon, finding a home near good schools is almost always a major factor.

It also helps that couples can get more bang for their buck in the suburbs.

The attraction Cordova has is there are so many brand new homes, you can get a lot of house for your money, Uhlhorn said. Its very attractive to have everything brand new, something that nobody else has lived in.

New options Downtown. But not everyone wants to live on the outskirts of town. Downtown living is an increasing trend nationwide, including in Memphis. But to follow that trend in Memphis, buyers often must be willing to pay a steeper price than what can be found out East or in Midtown.

I think they would like to be Downtown, but its cost-prohibitive, so they want to be close to Downtown, Uhlhorn said, adding that areas such as Cooper-Young and High Point Terrace remain hot for newlyweds. I work a lot in Germantown, but for the most part, theyre not interested in this area. Maybe if they had small children.

With its increasing entertainment options not to mention jobs Downtown has become a desirable location for many residents.

First-time reality. But young couples often have to make sacrifices.

Theyd love to buy a brand new, cool house on the river, but they cant afford that, so they have to learn to compromise and really evaluate what they want, Uhlhorn said.

McWaters said many young buyers are still looking inside the Interstate 240 loop, particularly in East Memphis.

High Point Terrace is hot, hot, hot, she said. That area, you put something on the market and its gone. There is really a demand for homes in all of that area, and I think theyre selling really well.

Savvy shoppers. Young buyers seem to be doing their homework more than buyers once did.

Years ago when I was showing people, they just had to be led, McWaters said. And now, the young people know how to do the magical things on the computer. They call us and say, Weve seen this and this and this and this, and we want to go see them.

Theyre pulling things off the Web and they know so much more than people used to. I think we have the computers to thank for that.

Uhlhorn agreed.

It seems like they are (more knowledgeable) because of the Internet, she said. They can get on and see not only what is available, but take little mini-courses on what constitutes a good mortgage and what are some things to look out for. They are more savvy than they used to be.


PROPERTY SALES 0 70 16,267
MORTGAGES 0 30 10,117