Just mort­gaged! House-proud mil­len­ni­als rush to share

The Weekend Australian - - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - EMILY GLAZER

Just as he was about to close a sale, Colorado real es­tate agent Marvin Martinez found him­self cop­ing with a cri­sis. A beauty cri­sis.

His client, in her 20s, knew the agent would post a photo on the Colorado First Time Home Buyer Face­book page that has 85,000 fol­low­ers.

The prob­lem: she needed false eye­lashes. And not just any false eye­lashes, but a spe­cific set she had at home.

Mr Martinez of­fered to make a trip to Wal­greens but was re­buffed. The client went home, changed her out­fit, got her own false lashes and about an hour later, emerged for the shoot, soon af­ter sign­ing the pa­pers.

“We just waited, that’s all,” Mr Martinez, said. “What else could we do?” As US mil­len­ni­als buy homes in greater num­bers, new wrin­kles are emerg­ing in an age-old process. Gone are the days of pop­ping a cham­pagne cork once the purchase and mort­gage forms are signed. Today, more first-time buy­ers rush to share their new­found sta­tus as home­own­ers across so­cial me­dia.

That has led some to craft elab­o­rate photo shoots in or out­side a first home. These of­ten fea­ture props such as “first home” signs or heart-shaped hand poses around new keys. Oth­ers buy­ers are cap­tured danc­ing in their bed­rooms or giv­ing pig­gy­back rides through the front door.

Real es­tate agents are tak­ing note, and play­ing along.

In the year to July 2016, mil­len­ni­als — peo­ple 36 or younger — were the largest group of home buy­ers, mak­ing up 34 per cent, ac­cord­ing to a Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors re­port. About twothirds of those buy­ers were rook­ies, ac­cord­ing to the March re­port, the most re­cent gen­er­a­tional data avail­able.

Joey Cabibbo and his new wife Mor­gan were so ex­cited about their new home they posted a photo of them­selves on In­sta­gram sit­ting on their front lawn with the “SOLD” sign — “be­fore we even got the keys,” Ms Cabibbo said.

A few days later — af­ter gar- ner­ing about 100 likes and more than a dozen com­ments — they did a pic­ture shoot with pho­tog­ra­pher friend Dawn Richard­son around their newly built home in Bo­erne, Texas. Pretty soon Mr Cabibbo was fling­ing Ms Cabibbo over his shoul­ders in their drive­way. Then he gave her a pig­gy­back ride in front of their wooden garage door and stone three-arch en­try area.

In Oc­to­ber, it was Ms Richard­son’s turn in front of the lens. When she and her hus­band bought their first home, she had a pho­tog­ra­pher col­league doc­u­ment the event.

De­spite 35C Texas weather, Ms Richard­son donned a grey sweater and dark-blue skinny jeans. Never mind the heat. “I wanted that cozy feel,” she said.

“AHH!! #Adult­ing,” she wrote on her blog when post­ing the pics.

Although they are in­ten­tion­ally shar­ing news of their purchase, some buy­ers are sur­prised by the at­ten­tion they get.

Home­buyer Ni­cole Salas, 28, her hus­band Jay, 27, and their younger son posed for pic­tures with a cus­tom tool­box at the ti­tle-in­sur­ance com­pany where their clos­ing took place.

Af­ter their real es­tate agent posted the photo in July, 550 peo­ple liked it.

“I no­ticed a lot of peo­ple had com­mented, so I was like ‘Do these peo­ple know us?’ ” Ms Salas said.

Blair Pomeroy and her hus­band Matt had a photo shoot in 2015 to show­case their new home in Florence, Ken­tucky.

One of her favourite pho­tos came from an idea she spot­ted on Pin­ter­est. Be­fore they posed for pic­tures in their bedroom — pre­fur­ni­ture — they tested a paint sam­ple by draw­ing an out­line of a house. She added “home sweet home” above the paint­ing and three hearts com­ing from the fake chim­ney. The cou­ple later used the photo for in­vi­ta­tions to their house-warm­ing party.

But not all the at­ten­tion is pos­i­tive. Some of the pic­tures posted by Home-Smart Realty Group in Green­wood Vil­lage, Colorado, have been la­belled “fake news” by Face­book users. Their beef: they can’t be­lieve so many mil­len­ni­als are buy­ing their first home.

“It’s (a) scam, peo­ple,” one per­son com­mented in late Oc­to­ber. An­other wrote on a first-time home­buyer’s post: “I don’t un­der­stand how some­thing like this could be a home for a first-time buyer. This is some­thing you would re­ally have to work for. Unless you’re re­lated to daddy McBig­bucks.”

How­ever peo­ple re­act to the pic­tures, real es­tate agents have dis­cov­ered they are good for busi­ness.

Corey Mau­rice Gil­more, an as­so­ci­ate bro­ker at Cap­stone Realty in Huntsville, Alabama, said so­cial me­dia had a “huge role” with the first-time home­buy­ers he works with.

“It’s kind of like a domino ef­fect: I see a lot of peo­ple, a lot of cir­cles of friends, buy houses around the same pe­riod of time ... be­cause they are see­ing their friends make home pur­chases,” he said.

He has also learned some new tricks of the trade. More than a year ago, Mr Gil­more pho­tographed a cou­ple who bought a house in Madi­son, Alabama.

The wife quickly texted him: “I hate those pic­tures,” she wrote, beg­ging him not to post them on Face­book.

Mr Gil­more said he now takes at least 10 pic­tures of home­buy­ers, mak­ing sure they will have plenty to choose from.

DAWN EL­IZ­A­BETH STU­DIOS

Joey Cabibbo and his now wife Mor­gan cel­e­brate out­side their new home in Texas last year

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