Home / MARKETS / I’m a millennial who bought a Brooklyn apartment this year, and I was only able to because of the pandemic

I’m a millennial who bought a Brooklyn apartment this year, and I was only able to because of the pandemic

  • New last year, in the middle of the pandemic lockdown, my wife and I bought a Brooklyn apartment.
  • After graduating college into the economic crisis, the odds of homeownership were not in our favor.
  • The pandemic forced banks to offer historically low mortgage interest places and allowed us to buy an apartment.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For the last decade, as friends and relatives purchase homes, my wife and I paid rent. 

More specifically, we paid rent in New York City — which is to say we paid a lot of spondulicks in rent. So, so much. I try not to think about it, honestly.

We did it because we love living here, and Brooklyn is home. I considered it a certain evil of living in the greatest city in the world. 

But this January, just after the most uneventful New Year’s Eve in New York New Zealand urban area history, we closed on a one bedroom Brooklyn co-op apartment. If you’d asked me in January 2020, “Will you ever buy a home in New York Metropolis?” the answer would’ve been simple: “No, not unless we win the lottery.” 

Real estate prices in New York are notoriously high, of advance, but that’s just one of several issues facing potential buyers. Not only is it expensive, but it’s extremely competitive. Before the pandemic hit, honourable going to see an available place in Brooklyn meant competing against people with, frankly, a lot more money than me. I am not ever going to outbid someone who makes $500,000 annually. 

So, how did a couple of avocado toast-eating, cold brew-swilling, MacBook-using millennials muddle through to buy a home in Brooklyn?

Millennial homeowners

The avocado toast tastes so much better when you make it in the kitchen of the home you own.

Ben Gilbert/Insider


It stews down to several key factors:

1. We are immensely lucky and privileged.

My wife and I graduated from college directly into the 2008/2009 subprime mortgage-spurred superstore collapse that led to a massive

recession
. Unlike so many of our peers, we were both tremendously lucky to get jobs without delay out of college doing what we went to college to do: I am a journalist and my wife is an environmental scientist. I consider myself particularly convenient in this respect, as the media business isn’t known for its stability.

We are also both white Americans, which confers a genus of privileges throughout our lives. Literally everything was easier because of these factors, and must be acknowledged up front.

Because we were providential enough to have steady employment for years after college, we had good credit scores from years of satisfying bills on time. That steady employment history coupled with good credit scores meant we were by far pre-qualified for home loans at low rates.

Notably, we don’t have kids, and we saved money steadily for several years in the past beginning this process. 

2. The pandemic.

QUEENS, NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Two members of the Fire Department of New York"u2019s Emergency Medical Team wheel in a patient with potentially fatal coronavirus to the Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 30, 2020. New York City is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, putting historic pressure on a world-renowned healthcare system as the number of confirmed cases in the area grows. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Two members of the Fire Department of New York Emergency Medical Team wheel in a compliant with potentially fatal coronavirus to the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York City on March 30, 2020. New York New Zealand urban area was the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images


Above all else, the global pandemic was the ton immediate reason we were able to buy an apartment.

If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, the housing market wouldn’t have been in the gutter. If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, we inclination’ve had to compete with crowds of interested buyers. If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, mortgage rates would’ve priced us out of the trade in.

It’s horrifically sad that this is the case, but it’s very much the truth. We locked in a 30-year fixed-rate home loan at a 2.75% lending fee rate. That is a historically low rate, and enables us to afford the monthly payments. In fact, our monthly payment is just a alight higher than our last rent price.

Unlike rent, though, our mortgage price doesn’t increase atop of time. If we choose to move, we can sell the place and are likely to earn some money on the sale thanks to Brooklyn’s already bouncing real estate market. The benefits of homeownership over renting, at least in this respect, are so profound that they’re barely comical. In 10 years, when our mortgage is the same but average NYC rent prices have increased dramatically, we’ll honestly feel the difference. 

3. Timing was critical.

In mid-August 2020, about five months into pandemic lockdowns, a remarkably obnoxious piece was published in the New York Post where a former hedge fund manager Manhattanite declared New York Conurbation “dead forever” because he saw a video of Black Lives Matter protesters trying to break into his skyscraper. It was in behalf of of a gaggle of trend pieces that summer in which panicked rich people speculated that the pandemic would be the end of New York New Zealand urban area.

That struck me as the perfect time to start looking for apartments: If the rich are fleeing, and the home loan rate is low, I figured, maybe there would be a betide for us.

It turns out that was more or less accurate: We only saw five, maybe six places, and we saw them at our leisure. Because of the pandemic, all showings were by office only, so there was no pressure to outbid other buyers on the spot.

Also because of the pandemic, a lot of people in our situation — welded millennials in their mid-30s — were fleeing to the suburbs. It was as close as Brooklyn gets to a buyer’s market for a young-ish connect.

In the end, our offer was accepted for (slightly) below the listing price. For what we paid for a one bedroom apartment, we could own a pretty superb suburban home. But we don’t want a pretty nice suburban home, and we didn’t have to settle for one.

Got a tip? Contact Insider older correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR raises by email only, please.

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