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10 millennials who managed to buy homes on Long Island

Adults, ages 18 to 34, made up the largest generational group of home buyers in the country last year, according to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors. There are no figures for Long Island, but here are 10 Long Island homes bought by millennials, as the age group is known.

Ashley and Richard Stephens in East Northport

Richard and Ashley Stephens just purchased their first
Credit: Elizabeth Macco

WHO THEY ARE: Ashley, 31, is a planner for an eyewear company, and Richard, also 31, is a sales engineer for a manufacturing company. They met at a wedding in Richard’s native England, marrying five years ago.
WHAT THEY DID: “We spent many weekends over the past year going to open houses,” says Richard. In January, they decided to start using a Realtor to help with their search. “The first weekend we were out with her, we found and fell in love with the place we now call home,” he says. They paid $481,000 “and a monster snowblower included in the contract,” he adds.
COMMUNITY: East Northport
WHY THEY CHOSE THE COMMUNITY: “While dating, Ashley and I spent a lot of time in Northport Village — it was a special place to us,” Richard says. “We always knew we would eventually want to settle down close to there.”
WHY THEY DECIDED TO BUY: “We always knew we would buy eventually, but we also knew that we wanted a forever home and didn’t want to settle for something that wasn’t just right,” Richard says.
“Like many people our age, we were living with family in a basement apartment for a number of years. We were fortunate enough to be able to save some money while doing this, which helped us make our down payment. So we’ve been saving and waiting to get that feeling of ‘home’ when we walked through the door. We were eyeing this 1900s Victorian home for a while, and when we went to see it, the feeling of home was instantaneous. It was full of character and charm.”
WHAT THEY WANTED IN A HOME: “We had a check list with some high priorities,” Richard says. “We love to cook and entertain, so a large kitchen was a must. Our kitchen has plenty of cabinet space, lots of counter space, a large island and breakfast nook. It also came with a nice wine rack as an added bonus.” They also wanted a master bathroom, formal dining room, basement, garage and gas heat.
HOW THEY GOT FINANCING: “We did a lot of shopping around for mortgages, but we eventually settled with a mortgage broker,” Richard says. “Luckily,” he adds, “we both have excellent credit scores so the process was relatively simple once we knew who our lender was going to be.”
WHAT THEY LIKE BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “We are looking forward to the joy of welcoming friends and family into our home,” Richard says.

Eric and Olivia Howell, with Weston, 3, and newborn Wyatt in Elwood

Shown in their recently purchased Elwood home, Eric
Credit: Olivia Howell

WHO THEY ARE: Olivia, 31, works as a social media manager and freelance writer, and raises their newborn, Wyatt, and 3-year-old, Weston. Eric, also 31, is a design engineer. They met on and have been married five years.
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: They started looking for houses with a real estate agent in January 2015. “The house we ended up buying was about the 10th or 12th house we looked at,” Olivia says. “We signed the contract in late January, had the inspection in February. We ultimately closed on the house in June.” They paid in the mid-300,000s.
WHY THEY CHOSE THE COMMUNITY: Olivia grew up in Huntington. “I really wanted to buy in Northport, but the prices were too high,” she says. They ended up looking in East Northport and saw a few houses in Elwood. “I loved that the Elwood community seemed close-knit, sort of a throwback to 1950s suburbia,” she says. “Plus, I loved how small the school district was.”
WHY THEY DECIDED TO BUY: “We had been renting in South Huntington and as soon as we realized our mortgage could be less than rent, we realized we were throwing away money and started looking,” Olivia says.
WHAT THEY WANTED IN A HOME: “We wanted a safe street on a cul-de-sac, a good school district and a community feel — we needed a house with two bathrooms and at least three bedrooms,” she says.
HOW THEY GOT FINANCING: They used Wells Fargo.
WHAT THEY LIKE BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “We love not having a landlord,” says Olivia.

Akilah and Nelson Nunez in Rockville Centre

A view of Nelson and Akilah Nunez sitting
Credit: Ivy Neal

WHO THEY ARE: Nelson, 29, and Akilah, 31, have been married two years. Akilah works as an adjunct case manager at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, and Nelson works for American Express in Manhattan. They are expecting their first child this month.
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: They are in contract on a three-bedroom, 1 1⁄2-bathroom home listed for $319,000.
COMMUNITY: Rockville Centre
WHY THEY CHOSE IT: It is an easy commute to New York City and has kid-friendly amenities, including the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Tanglewood Preserve. “It’s an amazing area for a growing family,” Lovell-Nuñez says.
WHY THEY DECIDED TO BUY: The couple had been renting an apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and decided they needed more space for their child.
WHAT THEY WANTED IN A HOME: At first the couple started looking at co-ops in Queens, but found the apartments were not much larger than where they were currently living. They were looking for more space and a backyard.
HOW THEY GOT FINANCING: The couple, who both completed their undergraduate and graduate education at Dowling College in Oakdale, at first worried that their student loans would prohibit them from qualifying for a mortgage. “We decided to take a shot and connect with a loan officer,” Nuñez says. They were preapproved for a $350,000 mortgage.

WHAT THEY LIKE BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “Homeownership appeals to me because it would afford us the ability to hold functions, learn the meaning of homeownership, both good and bad, and provide a stable, fixed environment,” Nuñez says.

Natalie Kovac in Garden City

Natalie Kovac is a Millennial who is buying
Credit: Daniel Goodrich

WHO SHE IS: Kovac, 31, works as a mechanical engineer designing HVAC systems for a company in New York City.
WHAT SHE IS DOING: She is in contract on a one-bedroom co-op apartment in a prewar building.
COMMUNITY: Garden City
WHY SHE CHOSE IT: Kovac grew up in nearby Franklin Square and wanted to be able to walk to the Long Island Rail Road to commute to work in downtown Manhattan.
WHY SHE DECIDED TO BUY: Having recently paid off her student loan and car loan, and having been promoted at work, Kovac decided she was in a good financial position to buy a home. “I was always planning on owning,” Kovac says.
WHAT SHE WANTED IN A HOME: Kovac was looking for a simple, one-bedroom apartment with a gas stove and hardwood floors.
HOW SHE GOT FINANCING: Before making an offer on the apartment, Kovac was preapproved for a mortgage, working closely with her real estate agent to secure financing.
WHAT SHE LIKES BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “I can go in and change things — I can change what the bedroom looks like and what the kitchen looks like,” Kovac says. “It’s kind of a milestone for me.”

Timothy McGowan and Kelly Allar in Lindenhurst

Timothy McGowan, 23, and his fiancee Kelly Allar,
Credit: Daniel Brennan

WHO THEY ARE: Allar and McGowan, both 23, are engaged and planning a wedding for July, 3, 2017. They met at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip and started dating at age 15. Allar works as a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, while McGowan is in a clinical psychology doctoral program at Adelphi University and works as a counselor at South Oaks Hospital in Amityville.
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: The couple is in contract on a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house that was listed for $319,000.
COMMUNITY: Lindenhurst
WHY THEY CHOSE IT: Allar and McGowan both grew up on the South Shore — she in Lindenhurst and he in Massapequa — and wanted to be near the beach. The Village of Lindenhurst has a farmers market on Saturdays, and Allar says she thinks it’s an “up and coming and young” community.
WHY THEY DECIDED TO BUY: “We didn’t want to throw away our money on an apartment each month,” Allar says. “We wanted to invest in something long term.”
WHAT THEY WANTED IN A HOME: At least two bedrooms, with the ability to expand, and a large driveway for hosting gatherings with family and friends.
HOW THEY GOT FINANCING: Allar and McGowan saved money for the down payment by living with their parents. Allar applied for a mortgage at the age of 22 (McGowan wasn’t a co-applicant since he is still a student) and she was preapproved for a $340,000 mortgage.
WHAT THEY LIKE BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: Allar and McGowan grew up understanding the importance of saving money and want to raise children in a property that they own, they say.

Cliff Skudin with girlfriend Jenny Vo in Long Beach

Cliff Skudin just bought a house in Long
Credit: James Coyle

WHO HE IS: Skudin, 34, grew up in Long Beach and co-owns a family business that provides surfing lessons, camps and events.
WHAT HE IS DOING: He closed in April on a two-family home for $399,000.
WHY HE CHOSE IT: “I love Long Beach,” Skudin says. “The ocean is right here, my business is right here. It made a lot of sense to buy a house on the ocean.”
WHY HE DECIDED TO BUY: Skudin had been renting in Long Beach since he was 20 years old and has been saving up to buy a home for five years.
WHAT HE WANTED IN A HOME: Skudin knew he would need the income from a rental to be able to afford the monthly payments. He also wanted to be in the east end of Long Beach, on the ocean side.
HOW HE GOT FINANCING: Skudin’s friend owns a mortgage company and he was easily preapproved for a home loan.
WHAT HE LIKES BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “I think of it is an investment in my future,” Skudin says. “I’m not paying somebody else’s mortgage. The money going into this is a big savings account for me. It’s money well spent.”

Paulina and Karin Araya in Islip

Paulina and Karin Araya walk their dogs
Credit: David L. Pokress

WHO THEY ARE:  Paulina, 28, and Karin, 26, have been married for almost two years. She is a high school Spanish teacher in Ozone Park, Queens, and he is an electrician.
WHAT THEY’RE DOING: The couple closed on a four-bedroom, 2 1⁄2-bathroom home in June for $274,550.
WHY THEY CHOSE IT: The couple was renting a home in Levittown and started looking there, but the prices and property taxes were too high for smaller properties. They felt that Islip was a similar community, with good schools for future children.
WHY THEY DECIDED TO BUY: Paulina says that while they are the first in their group of friends to buy a home, Karin’s uncle had recently become a homeowner. “We’re both working full time,” she says. “We figured if he can do it, we can do it as well.”
WHAT THEY WANTED IN A HOME: They wanted more than one bathroom and a large kitchen for when they entertain guests. “We were ready to put some work into the house as well, but this was all renovated,” Paulina says.
HOW THEY GOT FINANCING: They applied and were preapproved for a $319,000 loan.
WHAT THEY LIKE BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “Anything we need to fix, we spend the cash because it’s ours for good,” Paulina says.

Dan Hudson in Coram

Dan Hudson, 30, stands in front of the
Credit: Daniel Brennan

WHO HE IS: Hudson, 30, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2004 to 2008 and now works as a police officer with the NYPD in Brooklyn.
WHAT HE’S DOING: He is in contract on a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home that was listed for $299,990.
WHY HE CHOSE IT: Hudson started off looking in South Shore communities, such as Patchogue and Sayville, with bustling downtowns and night life, but he found that the homes there were out of his price range. He ultimately decided on Coram, which was a short drive from those areas and also near where he grew up in Farmingville.
WHY HE DECIDED TO BUY: He has been living with a friend who owns his own home and saw it as an achievable goal. “I rented apartments with girlfriends and friends, and I just thought, ‘What is this money going to? This isn’t really mine.’”
WHAT HE WANTED IN A HOME: At least three bedrooms with a basement — and a garage for his motorcycle.
HOW HE GOT FINANCING: As a veteran, Hudson was able to secure a VA loan, a mortgage guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that allowed him to purchase the property with no down payment.
WHAT HE LIKES BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “It’s part of the American dream,” Hudson says.

Samantha Marrow with her son, London, and mother, Shirley Emery in Deer Park

A view of Samantha Marrow, Samantha's son and
Credit: Ivy Neal

WHO SHE IS: Marrow, 31, is a captain with the New York City Correction Department  and has a son, London, 7.
WHAT SHE IS DOING: She is in contract on a three-bedroom, 1 1⁄2-bathroom home that was listed for $429,000
WHY SHE CHOSE IT: Marrow, who grew up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and rents an apartment in Bedford Stuyvesant, initially didn’t know anything about Long Island. After driving around with real estate agents and seeing properties, she decided she didn’t want to live too far east or west. She liked the Town of Babylon and found the area to be good for families.
WHY SHE DECIDED TO BUY: When Marrow is at work, her mother watches her son. She wanted her mother to move in with her to make things easier, and she could only do that by buying a house.
WHAT SHE WANTED IN A HOME: Marrow wanted at least three bedrooms. She would have liked a newly constructed home, but she ended up finding one that had recently been renovated.
HOW SHE GOT FINANCING: Marrow worked with a real estate agent, who introduced her to a mortgage broker.
WHAT SHE LIKES BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: The extra space and quiet that can’t be found in the city. “We work hard to be in a certain environment,” Marrow says, “just being able to come home to peace of mind, without hearing sirens screaming.”

Peter and Tara Visconti in Massapequa Park

Peter and Tara Visconti at their home in
Credit: Tara Visconti

WHO THEY ARE: Peter, 30, is an attorney in Queens, and Tara, 31, works for Heineken USA based in White Plains. They have been married two years and have a rescue dog, Harvey.
WHAT THEY DID: They just bought their first home for $551,500.
COMMUNITY: Massapequa Park
WHY THEY CHOSE THE COMMUNITY: It is close to parkways, there are lots of young families, it is safe, there are good schools, affordable taxes and it’s near family and friends, Tara says.
WHY THEY DECIDED TO BUY: “We wanted to set down roots and have something to call our own,” Tara says.
WHAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR IN A HOME: Tara says they had a long list: an open floor plan, fenced backyard, four bedrooms, including a master bathroom, a den and living room and space for family.
HOW THEY GOT FINANCING: They went through Wells Fargo.
WHAT THEY LIKE BEST ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP: “Making it our own,” Tara says. “I’m looking forward to decorating the most.”

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