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Feature: Not Exactly Barbie's Dream House

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Looking for insights into one of the fastest-growing demographics in the U.S.? Well, look no further. Born in 1979, my name's Sandra Brown—Sandy, for short—and I am Gen-Y.

I'm a single, 29-year-old registered nurse, working in the operating room at Modesto Memorial Medical Center, and I love my job. After obtaining my B.S. in biological sciences from the University of California at Davis, I moved back in with my parents to contemplate my next move. I got a job as a substitute teacher and quickly realized that education was not the field for me.

After a series of false starts, including a 24-hour move to and back from San Diego—long story—I decided to enroll at California State University, Hayward, to earn a second B.S., this time in nursing. After completing that degree in 2007, I moved out on my own and in with my roommate, Stephanie. Now, my long-term goal is to return to school to get my M.S. and become a nurse practitioner.

In my free time, I love to wakeboard, snowboard, and swim. I'm looking into taking up golf, but I need to take some lessons first. My mom and I share an Australian cattle dog named Daisy, who loves to play Frisbee. My likes include: strawberry ice cream, movies, soccer, and dogs. Dislikes: chocolate ice cream, cats, and black licorice.

A SHOPPER'S SAGA

My home buying experience so far has been somewhat stressful. Although there is an overabundance of homes available–and at great prices–many of them are in poor condition. I have found that I am a very picky person—although my kid sister would argue that this hardly comes as a surprise—and I'm not sure that I will be satisfied buying a home that has been foreclosed on and doing repairs on it. It could take a lot of money and time, not to mention headaches, to make it into the home that I want it to be—and I suffer from chronic migraines, so another headache is exactly what I don't need.

I'm worried about the state of the economy, and if I buy a home, I plan to sell in five years or so, once the economy has finally recovered. I don't want to be owned by my home, and I don't want to be trapped in one place; I want to be able to move if an opportunity presents itself that is good for my career. I've been looking at new-construction patio homes, newer homes that are in foreclosure, and newer homes that are not in foreclosure but are on the market.

I've actually been leaning more and more toward buying a new patio home because there is less maintenance involved, I can get exactly what I want, and I can move in without doing any repairs; the only real drawback is resale value.

The bottom line: Resale value, the condition of the home, location, and price are the mitigating factors in my home purchasing decision.

URBAN MYTHS?

Research from Robert Charles Lesser & Co. (RCLCO) shows that 77 percent of Gen-Yers would like to live in an urban core, and I respectfully disagree. I do not want to live in an urban core; the hustle and bustle of a city is just too much for me. I would love to live in a university town like Davis or Santa Cruz, where there are many cultural opportunities and an active downtown area, but a less stressful pace of life than somewhere like San Francisco or Oakland. Walnut Creek is another community in California that I would love to move to in a few years, once the housing market turns around and I'm ready to buy a second home.

If I lived in an urban or urban-lite environment, I would definitely pay more to live close to public transportation. However, living in a suburban community, public transit options are limited, so it is not important at this point in my home buying venture. If I were buying a home in a community such as Walnut Creek or Dublin, it would definitely be important for the home I purchased to be located near BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System).

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.