How a Millennial Pastor and Primary Earner Lost His Housing Opportunity Following a Brain Tumor, and his Route Back In: Joint Mortgage with In-laws

**Title: Challenges of the Housing Market for Millennials in Crystal Lake, Illinois**

**Subtitle 1: Introduction and Relocation**

In October 2022, Stephen Drew, his wife Laura, and their two sons faced the difficult task of relocating for the third time in six years. The reason for their move was a brain tumor that doctors initially believed to be cancerous and potentially fatal. After extensive evaluation by experts at the University of Oklahoma, Drew was advised to seek treatment at Northwestern University. This diagnosis necessitated the sale of their home in Oklahoma City and a return to Crystal Lake, Illinois, where they had previously lived. However, the soaring home prices and mortgage rates in Crystal Lake posed a significant challenge.

**Subtitle 2: Affordable Housing Crisis**

Drew’s frustration stemmed from the fact that despite securing the “best-paying job” he had ever had as an account manager for a financial advisory firm, he still couldn’t afford a home in Crystal Lake. Even finding a suitable rental property became difficult, as most required a tenant’s gross monthly income to be three times the rent. This financial burden forced the family to live in a small and poorly maintained rental home that did not meet their previous standards.

**Subtitle 3: Limited Housing Options**

Drew’s search for a home in Crystal Lake proved to be remarkably challenging. In his own words, there were “zero affordable homes” available within their budget. As of late last week, only nine homes were within their price range within a 20-mile radius, and many of them were in poor condition. The median sales price for homes in Crystal Lake was $349,000.

**Subtitle 4: Unique Solution: Purchasing a Home with In-Laws**

After months of turmoil, Drew and his family found a potential solution: purchasing a home with the help of his in-laws. They discovered a property with two homes on three acres of land, costing approximately $525,000. This arrangement allowed Drew to afford half the cost, which would have otherwise been impossible on his new account manager salary.

**Subtitle 5: Loan Acquisition Process and Unique Circumstances**

Despite the uniqueness of the situation, securing a home loan with his in-laws was relatively straightforward. Drew and his in-laws each submitted their documentation, and the lender assembled a joint loan. However, Drew acknowledges that this was a significant decision, one that required a strong rapport and good relationship with his in-laws.

**Subtitle 6: Past Homeownership and Financial Setbacks**

The frustration of the current housing market compounded for Drew due to his past experiences with homeownership. Despite earning a modest pastor’s salary, he had managed to own two homes in the past. The first home, purchased in 2016 for $220,000, was later sold in 2020 for $356,000, generating a profit of $128,000. Drew had hoped that this profit would set his family up well for the future. In 2021, he bought a second home for $385,000 in Oklahoma City intending to use part of it as an Airbnb rental. However, unforeseen and costly renovations left the family discouraged, as they had relied on additional income from the property to make ends meet.

**Subtitle 7: Competition with Boomers and Cash Buyers**

One of the major challenges faced by Millennials like Drew in the housing market is competing against Baby Boomers. Drew observed that Boomers often outbid Millennials with all-cash offers, making it difficult for younger buyers to secure a home. Drew shared that he and his family had viewed a home listed at $387,000 in Crystal Lake, but it ended up being sold to a Boomer who offered $15,000 over asking price in cash.

**Subtitle 8: Generational Differences and Detachment**

Drew has had conversations with Boomers about the housing affordability issue. According to them, mortgage rates were significantly lower when they purchased their first homes. However, Drew questions whether inflation and housing costs were as high during previous generations. He highlights a detachment between older generations’ experiences and the challenges faced by Millennials in the current housing market.

In conclusion, Stephen Drew’s experience highlights the challenges faced by Millennials in the Crystal Lake housing market. Rising home prices, competitive cash buyers, and limited affordable options make it increasingly difficult for young families to achieve homeownership. Creative solutions, such as purchasing a home with the help of family members, may offer some relief. However, broader reforms and increased housing affordability initiatives are necessary to address the larger systemic issues affecting Millennials in the housing market.

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