Having long resigned themselves to being renters for life, Millennials are preparing to move into the soon-to-be-vacated houses of the elderly in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. The death toll has climbed in recent days, leaving many prime properties unoccupied. Still more are expected to go on the market once their owners have succumbed to the devastating illness, prompting Millennial renters to scope out potential purchases.
Martin James and his fiancée Rachel Dwyer have been visiting nice neighborhoods, looking for signs of illness in the older residents. “We’re just looking for three or four bedrooms, and preferably a nice garden out in front,” Ms. Dwyer explained. “We drove by a nice one yesterday, and the older gentleman who was getting his mail looked like he was coughing.”
Mr. James added that they “obviously don’t want anyone to die,” but seeing as that was an inevitability given the spread of the epidemic, they “want to be prepared.” He has also added news alerts on his phone to notify him of interest rate drops, so that the couple can find the best mortgage rate.
One renter, who asked not to be named, has been asking around his town about the health of older residents. “I just want to make sure I know what might become available,” he said. “I’d given up on the idea of owning a home, but there are some really old people around here that I know aren’t going to make it.” He has compiled a list of over 20 properties that he thinks may be on the market soon, although he concedes that “realistically, only about five or so of them will actually die.”
Others, like 34-year-old Jessica Browne, are looking towards possible inheritances. “My great-aunt has a nice three bedroom, two bath ranch only about 20 minutes out of town,” she said, “and she doesn’t have any kids. We usually visit about once a month, but since the social distancing guidelines came out we’ve upped it to once a week.”
Realtors have been quick to jump on the trend, with some reaching out to shut-ins to gauge their respiratory health.
“I haven’t seen Mr. Lavelle around town recently,” said Mary Sullivan of Crowne, Mooney, and Sullivan. “I stopped by his house and he seemed to be wheezing a little. Hopefully he’ll be OK,” she added, “but I called my appraiser just in case.”