Here’s why new study ranks Brevard as one of top housing markets for baby boomers

Florida Today – A new study ranks Brevard County as one of the best housing markets in the country for baby boomers. But the Space Coast ranks in the middle third for those who are in Generation X and in the bottom third for millennials.

Researchers at Knock, a technology company that works to provide innovative home-loan solutions, analyzed the housing markets in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

The company then ranked the markets, based largely on specific factors important to each of the three generations of homebuyers. Average housing prices and housing availability also played roles in the rankings for all three generational categories.

Brevard County ranked:

  • No. 8 out of 100 for baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964.
  • No. 37 out of 100 for Gen Xers, those ages 41 to 56.
  • No. 68 out of 100 for millennials, those ages 25 to 40.

Austin, Texas, ranks No. 1 for millennials, while Miami is the best market for Gen X and Pittsburgh topped the list for baby boomers.

No market made all three top 10 lists, and only two markets — Austin and Knoxville, Tenn. — made two top 10 lists.

Baby-boomer rankings

Alexandria Quintana, a research analyst with Knock, said Brevard’s high ranking as a baby-boomer market was helped by such factors as its relatively strong percentage of the population in that age group, its weather and its favorable tax climate for retirees. Public safety and the number of primary-care physicians also factored into the equation.

Crews set trusses on a home under construction in the St. Johns Preserve community in Palm Bay.

The nation’s top 10 baby-boomer markets were:


  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Lansing, Michigan
  3. Knoxville, Tennessee
  4. New Orleans
  5. Birmingham, Alabama
  6. Augusta, Georgia
  7. Greenville, South Carolina
  8. Brevard County
  9. Jacksonville
  10. Tucson, Arizona

The study said the top baby-boomer markets on this year’s list offer retirees affordability and tax-friendly advantages that allow them to stretch their dollar further. They also generally have access to good health care, plus strong, diverse economies with part-time employment opportunities, culture and recreational activities.

Alexandria Quintana, a research analyst with Knock, said Brevard's high ranking as a baby-boomer market was helped by such factors as its relatively strong percentage of the population in that age group, its weather and its favorable tax climate for retirees.

On average, residents in the top 10 housing markets for baby boomers pay 75% less in sales, property and inheritance taxes than the national average. They also have access to 35% more primary-care physicians per 100,000 residents than the nation’s 100 largest metros as a whole.

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Tara Johnson is a mortgage loan originator with the Neal Johnson Mortgage Team at Union Home Mortgage in Melbourne. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she has noticed out-of-state baby boomers wielding their purchasing power by downsizing and snapping up smaller houses across the Space Coast.

“They’re buying up all the starter homes,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen it a lot. They sell their huge $700,000 house in another state, and they’re coming down here,” Johnson said.

“With the price inflation right now, they’re buying the $250,000 to $300,000 houses — that four years ago were the $185,000 to $200,000 houses,” Johnson said.

Shane Burgman, a Palm Shores-based sales partner/real estate specialist with the Carpenter/Kessel Real Estate Advisory Team at Compass, said he has visited Austin, Charlotte, North Carolina, and other metro areas on the lists, and he appreciates them for different reasons. But he said the Space Coast’s key strengths are cost of living and affordability of real estate.

“It’s interesting, because the people that have lived in Brevard 10 years ago, 15 years ago, who are moving back, are kind of shocked by the sticker prices of real estate,” said Burgman, who also is founding chairman of 321 Millennials. 

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“I also work with people that have never been to Brevard, and they’re moving from these larger metros in Texas or California, New Jersey, New York — and they find our prices so great,” Burgman said.

“So it’s always cool to see the different perspectives of people that have been here, and see the prices, and they’re shocked. And you have people that are coming from markets that are two to three times more expensive than ours, and they find it as a bargain,” Burgman said. “I think that’s a huge reason why Brevard is growing so fast.” 

Gen X rankings

Gen Xers are statistically at the top of their careers, and are most likely to have school-age children. So the rankings looked at such factors as school ratings, median home sizes and distribution of management-level employees, Quintana said.

The top 10 Gen X markets in the rankings were:

  1. Miami
  2. Austin, Texas
  3. Knoxville, Tennessee
  4. Portland, Oregon
  5. Boise, Idaho
  6. Omaha, Nebraska
  7. Raleigh, North Carolina
  8. Phoenix
  9. Salt Lake City
  10. Boston 

In 2021, the median home in the best Gen X markets was 17% more expensive than the U.S. median-priced home, but offered relative affordability, compared with New York, San Francisco and Seattle, for example.

Homes in the top Gen X markets offered 150 more square feet than the national average. These markets offered a strong job market with a diverse employer base; 1.2 times more managerial positions than the national average; and a larger-than-average number of highly ranked school systems.

Millennial rankings

Quintana said the ranking of millennial markets factored in such things as their share of the overall population in a market; the rate of influx of more millennials into the market; and concentration of jobs in the tech, finance and health industries.

Millennials are the largest contingent of homebuyers. 

The top 10 millennial markets were:

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Des Moines, Iowa
  3. Charleston, South Carolina
  4. San Antonio
  5. Atlanta
  6. Providence, Rhode Island
  7. St. Louis
  8. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  9. Charlotte, North Carolina
  10. Spokane, Washington   

When compared with the 100 largest metro areas overall, the top millennial markets are 11% more affordable and offer 19% more homes for sale on average. In these metros, millennials make up 20% to 25% of the population on average. They also attract an average of 90% more inbound millennials, year over year, than the largest 100 metros; and have 1.17 times the national average concentration of jobs in the tech, finance and health industries.

Brevard County’s rankings for both the Gen X and millennial categories were helped by its relatively low median sale price and relatively large home inventory, compared with the national averages. The county’s highly rated school district also helped Brevard’s ranking for millennials.

But Brevard fell short in the percentage of residents in the Gen X and millennial categories, partly because of the high concentration of baby boomers. 

Among millennials, Johnson said some engineers with Northrop Grumman, L3Harris and Kennedy Space Center employers can buy $300,000 and $400,000 houses single-handedly amid Brevard’s robust aerospace economy.

But, conversely, many millennials who work at restaurants and other lower-paying jobs are forced to co-sign with parents to get a mortgage or seek down-payment assistance.

“We do have this big gap,” said Johnson, who serves on the Space Coast Young Professionals Steering Committee.

Housing outlook

In announcing the results of its study, Knock said that, affordability and limited supply are expected to keep the housing market competitive. At the same time, remote work options and the desire for more space are influencing people’s decisions on where to live.  

“Although we do expect the housing market to moderate in 2022, homebuyers will continue to face many of the same challenges they did last year,” Knock co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Sean Black. “Rising interest rates will offset any relief buyers get from slowing home price growth.”

Black said the good news “is the rise in remote work has given many people the freedom to rethink where they want to live, opening up options for those willing to explore new cities that offer relative affordability, growing economies and access to the amenities important to them.”

Knock’s 2022 housing forecast predicts that:

  • The national median sale price will grow 8% to $399,484 year-over-year.
  • Homes will sell in an average of 20 days, down from 22 in 2021.
  • The number of months of supply of houses available for sale on the market at any given time will fall 11% to 2.1 months, which remains well below the average of four to five months in a “balanced” housing market.

“The housing market today is definitely still heated,” Quintana said.

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