The Kids Are Alright

With laser focus on the Millennials, the real estate industry tried in vain to “figure out” what was happening with Millennials and why they were waiting so long to buy homes and “settle down.” The consensus was, they wanted experiences more than homes, they wanted to start the adulting later than most. While everyone was so panicked about when Millennials would get off social media and get to the serious stuff, Gen Z caught up in a flash and entered the market. Now the experts are late to the game with the new kids in town, and they never quite figured out the generation before. Gen Z, full of creativity, empowered, conscious of climate change, social justice issues and many creating their own businesses before graduating college- high school- has entered the market.

My first sale with a Z was a few years back. I was blown away by the amount of confidence and life experience my buyer had at such a young age. I was also taken aback at how realistic he was about his wants, needs and budget. Opting for a smaller, older home- with character over square footage- Alex closed on the home quickly and got on to more important matters- like building his empire.

Now, a mere two years later, my youngest buyer is now my youngest seller. With the market on fire, equity building up and the West Coast calling his name, Alex and his wife Maria have decided to sell their Brentwood Historic home and to start a new chapter. While preparing for the listing, we caught up with the newly married couple to chat about what the process was like from start to finish.

N: Where are you from?

A: I was born in Bozeman, MT but my parents moved to Phoenix when I was 6 months old, so I’m an honorary native as I like to say. My wife Maria was born in upstate New York and re-located to Phoenix about 5 years ago. We met at a coffee shop I used to work at about 4 and a half years ago.

N: What do you do for a living?

A: I’m an entrepreneur, art director and designer. 

N: How did you get into that line of work?

A: I’ve been interested in art and design since I was a very little kid. I was the kid playing with a computer instead of a basketball. My love for this type of work hasn’t wavered since, even if it may take on many different forms. I’ve worked as an in-house designer, at agencies, and as a freelancer. I’ve also owned a few different businesses in different industries. The beauty of this line of work is there’s usually a way to integrate it into whatever interest I have at the time.

N: What prompted you to buy a house at a young age?

A: Looking back, it was a bit of a lucky impulse. I didn’t know the first thing about residential real estate, and after learning that the process wasn’t as involved or financially restrictive as I thought, I just went for it. I’ve always had an interest in interior design and architecture as well, so I was excited to try a project of my own.

N: Did people try to talk you out of it? Or were they encouraging?

A: At the time, the housing market was a bit more tame, so I generally heard words of encouragement. I’m certainly the “researcher” type, so after reading the 30 top articles on Google about home ownership, there were admittedly a few times I second guessed the decision.6. What was most helpful to you as a new buyer? Having a fantastic realtor to walk me through the process! I’m not kidding. I went from knowing nothing about the process to feeling confident about it after just a couple phone calls with Misha. Home ownership 101 isn’t taught in school and it’s generally not a discussion you have with your family members. Most people have to learn about it on their own without much initial guidance. If I relied just on reading articles and solo research, I don’t know if I’d be a homeowner right now. 

N: What made you say “yes” to this house?

A: This house has the perfect balance of historic charm and modern touches. We knew we wanted a house that had been updated so we weren’t left to deal with repairs on day 1. We looked at quite a few “flips” that mostly erased any history the homes may have had as well as chose a monotone gray for all the new fixtures and finishes. Yuck! This house had been re-done, but didn’t feel like a flip and much of the charm had been left intact. Additionally, it was one of the only homes on the street that hadn’t had their brick painted over. 

N: What has it been like to live here?

A: We’ve really enjoyed picking out furniture and art in this home. A home is never complete and we appreciate that it’s this ever-changing, evolving project of ours. I’ve personally also liked watching the exciting re-development happening in the area and getting involved on the local level to enact positive change in the neighborhood. 9. What is your favorite room or spot in the house? The kitchen table is the epicenter of all the great natural light that pours into the home. The chair I sit in faces out, so I have a good view of the rest of the home and can see out the windows. The bedroom is Maria’s favorite, especially since we re-designed it as our first major project. Beautiful tongue-and-groove ceiling, sconces, and vintage pendant lighting. It’s so nice to have a relaxing environment to retire to each evening.

N: What would you call your interior style?

A: Pre-pandemic, travel was one of the main ways I drew inspiration for my sense of style. I’d say it’s Scandinavian meets Mid Century meets Coastal Modern meets Southwest and Mexico. I intentionally wanted to create a style you couldn’t quite define to keep the house feeling unique and inspiring to us.

N: You’ve started #alexandmariahome, can you tell me about that?

A: We wanted a way to track the progress we’ve made on the house, and since we already share so much of it on Instagram, we figured a hashtag would be an easy way to achieve that. We’ve loved hearing that a handful of folks have taken inspiration from the content we’ve posted there. It’s also fun to see how the mood and vibe of the house changes as the seasons go by.

N: What has homeownership been like for you?

A: More-or-less, fairly easy. We’ve of course had to make a few minor repairs and keep up the house grounds on a regular basis, but it’s been a pleasure to own a home.

N: What made you decide to sell?

A: Originally, my wife and I had talked about wanting re-locate to San Diego sometime in the further-off future. After the pandemic hit and the routine of our days shifted, we started considering why we were waiting. I’ve lived here my whole life and deep down knew that the longer we stayed in Phoenix, the harder it would be to leave. I could also do most of my work from anywhere in the world. We also were planning our elopement (we’re now married) and figured now was as good of time as ever to make the leap to a new city. Might as well shake it up all at once! Also, the Phoenix market is on fire right now and it’s a great time to be a seller.

N: What will you miss most about living here?

A: I’m sentimental about the love and work we’ve poured into the home, so I’ll miss seeing the fruits of our labor. We’ve also had a few friends move into the neighborhood and we’ll definitely miss spontaneous hangouts.

N: What are some improvements you have made to the home?

A: To start with the less-sexy but necessary items, a new AC unit was a big one as well as a 240v plug to charge our Tesla. The fun improvements have been updating the lighting and adding dimmers throughout the interior and exterior of the home (lighting is probably one of my favorite things to research — it really makes such a big difference when you get it right), updating fixtures in the kitchen, and completely re-designing our bedroom.

N: What is the one thing you always thought you would do here but never got around to?

A: The backyard. We’ve added some outdoor furniture which has certainly made it a nice place to hangout, but we always had the dream of building out a resort-style backyard with a firepit, multiple seating areas, pergolas, perhaps a hot tub and a small pool.

N: What’s next?

A: San Diego! I will be continuing my practice as an entrepreneur, art director and designer exploring the many interests and ideas I have. Maria will be finishing school and pursuing a few of her own endeavors in the city. I’m excited to start working with clients along the coast, many of them have long been an inspiration of mine.

18. Any advice for first time home buyer’s? What about sellers?

A: For buyers, don’t worry about the things you can’t control! You’ll lose out on offers and contracts, but in the end you’ll land in the place that’s right for you. Looking back, we had a couple offers fall through before going under contract on this house and I’m so glad we ended up here. For sellers, keep your house in good shape whether you’re selling it or not. Every 3-6 months, make time to make minor fixes and touch-ups as well as de-clutter. It’ll make the selling process so much easier when it comes time for that.

So much more than my youngest buyer and seller, Alex gives me hope for the future, I feel like the kids of Generation Z have it so much more figured out than we know. We can’t wait to see what San Diego and the future hold for you two.

The listing for Alex and Maria’s home can be found here. The home will be open this weekend from 12p-4p both Saturday and Sunday. Please contact us at hello@theneighborlyphx.com for more info.

Written by: Misha Renteria

Photography by: Spenser Lee

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