For those who land a job with Hudl in the sports video software company’s home state, the young professionals who already work there have some thoughts on life in Lincoln and Omaha to offer. About 50 pages worth.
They’re housed on a shareable, ever-growing Google Drive doc titled “NE Guide,” with information on the “Hudlies’” preferred banks, grocery stores, restaurants, you name it. There are Yelp-esque reviews of 13 Lincoln coffee shops -- 14, if you count the Keurig machines at Hudl that earned high praise. There are endorsements of six nail salons, 27 bars and 15 routes along Lincoln’s bike trails.
But beyond all the talk of amenities, businesses and recreation options is the all-important list of places to live in Lincoln.
Apartments are listed in spreadsheet form, with information on location, prices and an opinion on likability. Many are downtown, close to Hudl's Lincoln office space, but there are other options included. There's a glowing review of the Near South Neighborhood. (“It’s really close to downtown, without having to deal with parking and is easily bikeable/walkable. There are tons of cool local businesses in the area, and it’s a really family-friendly place, too, especially as you go (southeast).”
According to U.S. Census survey statistics from 2014, about 84,000 residents of Lincoln are between the ages of 18 and 34. But it’s difficult to pin down what that nearly 31 percent of the city’s population values.
There's a hint, though, in all the student housing and apartment construction in the Haymarket and downtown, the Telegraph District coming to 21st and N streets and the interest in the future of what was briefly termed "SoDo" but now is best described as south downtown.
In the housing recommendations from Lincoln's rapidly growing startup company and the minds of real estate agents who work with young homebuyers, millennials are gravitating toward downtown.
“In 2021, when the next Census comes out, we're going to see a huge difference (in downtown residency)," said Brandon Garrett, a city planner.
Since 2002, apartment complex developers and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have added 5,781 beds to the downtown area through construction and renovation projects. Garrett said that just to meet UNL's stated goal to enroll 30,000 students would require another 5,000 or so beds.
And college students make up a minority of those 18 to 34 living in Lincoln, he said.
While the apartment boom continues downtown, the Lincoln housing market is also focused in that direction, to a degree.
“Downtown proximity is more important than ever before, as we have a more vibrant downtown than ever before” said Miranda Watson, a Woods Bros real estate agent. "But it’s been a slow trend.
“Many Midwesterners like having a great downtown but are content to return to the suburbs to their employers and homes."
Watson said that there's interest in all areas of town from the young clients who she works with. (Hudl’s house-hunting recommendations suggest the same thing, referencing Wilderness Ridge, Country Club, Firethorn, The Ridge, Ravenswood and Fallbrook, among others).
Sheilah Glasco, also a Woods Bros agent, said she’s worked exclusively with millennials since becoming a Realtor a year ago. There’s been a desire among nearly all of her clients to live within a 10-mile radius of downtown. With a record number of home sales in Lincoln in 2015, she said there are only so many options on the market.
“We need more,” she said. “We’re low on inventory right now. I think that that’s going to change.”
She cited the NeighborWorks lending program and current low interest rates as helpful to young buyers -- who are often unmarried couples or singles, she said -- in search of dream homes.
There are other things she and others have noticed about young buyers in today's market.
* They aren’t afraid of some DIY work. Glasco said that, when closing on a house in February, she was asked by the buyer what she thought about a project on her Pinterest board. That was nothing new for Glasco. “With this group now, we’re seeing not only young couples but also single people who are willing to do some work themselves.”
Part of that is a desire to showcase individuality, Watson guessed, but it also likely has to do with the fact that millennials are being forced to be resourceful. Young adults nationwide are saddled with more student debt and are drawing smaller incomes than previous generations.
“With lower incomes and higher debt ratios, it makes sense that folks have learned the value of building sweat equity themselves,” she said
* But they value move-in ready properties like never before. Watson said that many of the prospective buyers she’s working with are, however, shying away from homes that require major mechanical or structural work. They don’t want to buy new roofs, furnaces, water heaters or the like on top of their home purchases.
“They’d rather buy as much home as possible, putting anything they have toward a down payment or greater house value, and have a house that’s mechanically in great condition,” Watson said. “They want it all!”
* And they aren't living in their parents' basements. According to the Census Bureau, 30.3 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 lived in a home where a parent was the householder. That number has risen from 23.2 percent in 2003.
And yet, Lincoln refrigerators remain largely un-raided. In 2000, 13.3 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds lived at home in the Lincoln metro area, according to Census figures. That number had barely increased, to 13.8 percent, by 2013. (The Omaha-Council Bluffs area, by comparison, saw an increase from 20.5 percent in 2000 to 23.8 percent in 2013).
“I like that stat,” Glasco said.