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RISMEDIA, July 16, 2007—(MCT)—Bobbie and Justin Scanio didn’t want a big house in the suburbs.

The married 26-year-olds moved to San Antonio this year from Austin, and bought a 107-year-old home comprising about 1,500 square feet in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood, south of the King William Historic District.

“We wanted something close to downtown because we wanted to be able to ride bikes for entertainment and to go to restaurants,” Justin Scanio said.

They are not alone.

Homeownership among the under-30 set has been increasing. In 1993, fewer than 15% of people under 25 owned a home. In 2006, one in four people younger than 25 were homeowners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Scanios, and every other American still under 30, are members of Generation Y. Also known as “echo boomers” and “millennials,” Generation Y generally includes people born between 1977 and 2002.

Now that the oldest Gen Y-ers are becoming home buyers, real estate agents are paying attention to what they want in a home.

Typically, they want urban locations that are culturally and ethnically diverse, according to the Urban Land Institute. They want neighborhood and home designs that are socially accessible and include gathering places. And they are more likely to buy into green features.

“Younger buyers are more interested in living in smaller spaces that are more efficient, and to live closer to work,” said Bill McBroom, an agent with Deborah Myers Real Estate Inc.

“They’re also interested in neighborhoods and the cultural experience. There’s a big resurgence in the front porch as a place to socialize and live in the context of a neighborhood.” Justin Scanio, an architecture graduate student, pedals to classes at the University of Texas at San Antonio Downtown Campus.

Bobbie Scanio, who studies interior design, likes the artsy environment of their South Side neighborhood. And both like to cruise on their bikes to the River Walk for a frosty margarita.

McBroom, who specializes in urban neighborhoods, has found that buyers in their 20s are more likely to accept a house that only has one bathroom, especially if they don’t have kids.

More important than space are conveniences: 20-somethings insist on having dishwashers and laundry facilities, McBroom said.

“Houses that are renovated are more appealing to them because they’re less likely to have the skills to renovate an old house,” he said.

Amy Stone, who just turned 30, recently took her first job as a professor at Trinity University.

“I wanted to live in a neighborhood that was a little quirky,” she said.

She found a bungalow in Alta Vista.

“The houses are small; mine is 1,100 square feet,” she said. “I don’t have that much stuff and I don’t have big plans to expand, so I was OK with that.”

Stone’s electricity bills are low and the neighborhood has a mix of single people, retired couples and families, she said.

“San Antonio still has a lot of areas where you can take part in the resurgence of neighborhoods and people are really excited about that,” McBroom said. “In so many markets, you can’t find that anymore.”

But not every Gen Y-er wants an urban lifestyle or simplified living.

There are 20-something soccer moms and dads who want homes with features similar to the ones where they grew up.

“I definitely see a trend of younger people buying their first homes, and they’re buying more expensive homes,” said Jo Helen Clark, an agent with Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper Realtors who specializes in North Side neighborhoods.

Younger people who buy in suburban areas are likely to buy homes with the most current styles, such as an open kitchen with granite countertops and a breakfast area, Clark said.

“A lot of them like to entertain and they want something in the backyard — an outdoor kitchen or a patio area — to entertain friends,” she added.

Being the most “plugged-in” generation, electronic features often make the sale for 20-somethings, she said. Married couples and families usually want space for two computers — one in the kitchen and one in the study, for example. They need space for the plasma-screen TV, and they appreciate a home that’s wired for their high-tech needs.

“Surround sound. They like that,” Clark said.

WHAT DOES Y WANT?

Last year, one in four people younger than 25 were homeowners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These are some of the features that members of Generation Y seek in a home:

–Urban location
–Energy efficiency
–Simplification: 20-somethings often want smaller homes and lots.
–Low maintenance: They don’t want homes that need renovations.
–Convenience: A home with a single bathroom might be OK, but Gen Y-ers won’t go without a dishwasher and laundry facilities.
–High-tech: Homes that are wired for surround sound and include space for more than one computer appeal to younger buyers.

Sources: The Urban Land Institute and San Antonio real estate agents

Copyright © 2007, San Antonio Express-News
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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