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One of the best cities for millennial homebuyers in the U.S. is Hayward

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But the pickings are getting slimmer as years go by

Residential neighborhood with multilevel single family homes, built on a hilly area; water tank visible on top of the hill. Photo via Shutterstock

If you’re a millennial (i.e., anyone born between 1981 and 1996) looking to buy a home in the Bay Area, a great place to get a deal is somewhere else.

Although generally thought of as a younger generation, the oldest millennials are now in their late 30s. And while some of them are in the homebuying market, their rate of homeownership overall is lower than the rest of the country—as are their incomes.

As such, younger people in the Bay Area and in SF are even more likely to rent than anyone else. But last week Smart Asset released its annual list of the most popular markets for millennial homebuyers, which contained a surprise: Hayward, of all places, landed in tenth place.

Note that what Smart Asset calls “millennials” is a bit of a misnomer; they’re only counting buyers 35 and under, which leaves out a lot of people in the demographic. But since they’re relying on census data, that’s as specific as it can get for the time being.

Of the East Bay city, Smart Asset says it’s the priciest place on the list with a median home value of $638,600, but that the homeownership rate for those under 35 is up over the last decade anyway.

In 2009, over 30 percent of Hayward homeowners were 35 or younger. And in 2018, that figure rose to 34 percent. While that might sound like a small increase, in statistical terms it can mean a lot.

It’s of little surprise that younger homebuyers find Hayward more attainable—that $638K home value is certainly a lot compared to rest of the country—the median home value for the rest of Alameda County was $842K, and in Oakland it was more than $717K.

But price alone isn’t the determining factor: Bay Area cities like Fairfield and Bethel Island have even more affordable homes on average. But younger homebuyers tend to be more attracted to less obscure places—e.g., like Hayward.

So should more young homebuyers look toward Hayward for prospects? Well, it’s technically not the cheapest place in the East Bay to buy a home (again, that’s Bethel Island)—but at the same time, it’s not going to get cheaper.

One thing Smart Asset doesn’t reveal about that $638K home value is that it’s almost twice what it was just in 2010. In fact, Hayward home values appreciated even faster than homes in Oakland.

So just like Oakland was once seen as a more affordable alternative to San Francisco, cities like Hayward might actually price themselves out of being affordable alternatives to Oakland.

That being the case, if you’ve got a down-payment in hand, it might be a good time to look toward Hayward while the sun shines.