Commentary by Brandi Gabbard, Contributing Writer
I am fortunate to work with many first-time homebuyers to help them achieve the American Dream. The sticking point is what that dream looks like to them, and making it work within their budgets.
Younger buyers want easy access to urban centers so they can be engaged in active lifestyles. They want shorter commutes and more time with family. They want to be able to walk to restaurants, night life, coffee shops and grocery stores. While wanting all these things is important to them, they are faced with the challenge of how to have it all while still purchasing a property that is affordable.
Pinellas County is often referred to as a “built out” community. It is no secret that we have an older housing stock, which when located near any of our lovely downtown communities, is typically out of the price range of most of our younger buyers. So what is the answer? Will they decide they are OK with being farther from the urban areas to get their perfect home in their price range? Or will they settle on a fixer-upper in a dreamy location?
A recent Nielsen report finds the largest population of millennials lives on the west coast. For Tampa Bay to stay competitive with the markets there, one thing is for sure: change is needed.
It is the responsibility of all community leaders to take notice of this trend and do everything they can to accommodate. Whether it is through encouraging development that replaces older single-family housing with condos and townhouses and other lower-priced options, as we see already happening in some areas, or in improving mass transit to help residents in their quest to get to the urban areas, something needs to be done.
I believe Pinellas County and Tampa Bay as a whole are up for this challenge. It is an exciting time as the largest generation comes into the workforce and begins to settle down and build roots within our community. The end result will be better quality of life. And that’s not just for the younger generation. After all, many boomers are now looking to downsize and want to be at the center of it all, too.
Brandi Gabbard is chairman of the Board of Directors for the Pinellas Realtor Organization and a broker associate Realtor with the Brandi Christine Team at Smith and Associates Real Estate in St. Petersburg and can be reached at email@example.com.
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