Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Best Chattanooga Neighborhoods for Gen X

Much has been made of the Baby Boomers' retirement worries during the down economy. Many of them have been unable to sell their empty nests or afford their retirement dream homes. So too has a lot of attention been paid to the Millennials' delays in marriage and real estate purchases that came earlier for previous generations who came of age in more prosperous times. Both Boomers and Generation Y are flocking to urban areas and pushing soaring rental rates forward. Lost in the middle of that media coverage, however, is Generation X and their unique real estate needs.

Molly Ringwald, playing a mom on Secret Life of the American Teenager.
NPR recently reported on economist findings that the housing "slump is disproportionately hurting the so-called Generation X — people born between 1965 and 1982." They explain that, although Boomers have been affected by the economy and have their own real estate frustrations, they are still doing better than Gen X in terms of home value appreciation. Although their home values are not where they were before the housing bust, they had more years to enjoy value appreciation than a Gen X'er who was at home buying age only just before the housing market crashed. "If a Gen-Xer who was 30 years old in 2006...bought the typical house that year during the housing bubble, she paid about $250,000. Today, that home owner would be 35 years old, and her property's value would have declined by about a third, dimming her prospects for an affluent retirement."

A beautiful 1930s home located between Red Bank and North Chattanooga
listed by the Randy Durham Team
Whether you are one of the 60% of Gen Xers who currently own a home or are looking to make the leap, it's important to consider the unique financial pressures your cohort is under. Not only have Gen X homeowners been hit harder by the housing bust, but they, along with younger Boomers, are the generation squeezed between their boomeranging children and their aging parents. Affordability is an important quality for Gen X home buyers, both first timer and those looking to upgrade, downside, or just find something new.

For these reasons, Generation X home buyers in Chattanooga might want to consider neighborhoods like Signal Mountain, East Brainerd, Red Bank, and North Chattanooga. All of these areas are economically diverse and offer access to better ranked schools, and proximity to private or magnet schools. They are also convenient to shopping, gyms, and family activities like parks, movie theaters, and outdoor attractions. With the exception of Signal Mountain and East Brainerd, all these neighborhoods have especially short commutes to downtown Chattanooga of around just 10 minutes.

An East Brainerd home listed by the Randy Durham Team
These neighborhoods offer a variety of architectural styles and home features from new construction with great rooms and multi car garages to historic homes both renovated and unrestored. The age of the individual neighborhoods in these parts of town also mean many of the homes are traditional suburban designs like split levels and bungalows that are well-suited to family life, with features like mother-in-law suites, rec rooms, and more. These areas also have consistently good or improving property values that should help balance out the financial stress put on Gen X as the housing market recovers.

Downtown neighborhoods like Highland Park or St. Elmo are also worth considering despite the still struggling nearby schools. The schools for many downtown neighborhoods are not yet recovered, but major progress is being made. For families willing to weather those improvements as they are being made, or are engaged in magnet or private schools these neighborhoods offer a great opportunity to get a lot of house for the money with historic details that, in just a few years, will be far more pricy as home values increase. Such neighborhoods are a great investment.