#FocusDisruption is an all-media collaboration of the Montclair State School of Communication and Media. Our goal is to report stories that highlight the effects or disruptions of the past two years and the solutions that have emerged. All aspects of everyday life have been changed, but we will mainly focus on how mental health, education and the workplace have changed.

The great migration is a trend that has inspired the younger generation to take action and uproot themselves and their lives for the better. That might mean quitting your job in search of something more fulfilling or packing your things in a car and moving 1,000 miles away. But how can students and recent graduates prepare to enter an extremely disrupted real estate world?

In 2020, the real estate market has been disrupted in an unprecedented way. Some would say the market even looked like it was in 2008, before the economic crash. As the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread around the world, people found themselves deserting their homes in crowded cities and returning to the suburbs with their families. Across the United States, college students have been forced to leave half-empty dorms and finish their semesters at home.

As more and more people left the cities, the demand for real estate was high. And at the same time, due to high unemployment and government incentives, mortgage rates were low, giving even more incentive to people who hadn’t invested in real estate to get started.

Anthony Petruzziello, Sales Manager for Cross Country Mortgage Company, has been in the business for over 20 years. He has seen his business and the market in general evolve significantly over the past two years.

“We saw a lot of activity [in the market]“said Petruzziello. “All-time highs in terms of transactions, purchases, as well as refinancings. Interest rates fell significantly during [COVID-19]. So even if you weren’t moving and living in your home, it was a plus for you to take a look at your existing mortgage, refinance it, and save some money.

Anthony Petruzziello (second from left) closing a home with satisfied customers.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Petruzziello

Demand for homes was high, causing inventory, prices and purchases to spike. This level of activity was the perfect storm for sellers, but not so much for buyers, who now had to constantly compete with others to even get a response on their home offers.

Even the rental market has completely changed. This is where many young students and graduates end up and it is often their first independent purchase.

With homeowner lending rates doubling from 2.75% in 2020 to almost 5.8% now in 2022, according to Petruzziello, many people aren’t looking to leave their recently purchased or refinanced homes. As a result, tenants looking to buy are staying in their rentals and driving down the stock of new rentals for young people looking to begin their real estate journey.

Giovanni “John” Apicella is a real estate agent with Keller Williams and a 2020 Montclair State University graduate. Before the pandemic, he too was getting ready to enter the real estate market, but not as a consumer.

While finishing his college studies, he took courses to obtain his license in real estate. He encourages those who wish to have their own license to go this route as it can be useful in the long run.

“After Montclair State, I was trying to figure it out,” Apicella said. “[The license] is a good thing to have. You could sell a house a year or do a few rentals [as a secondary income]. So maybe you want to take it full time and make a career out of it.

John Apicella in front of one of his ads in March 2020. Photo courtesy of John Apicella

John Apicella outside one of his announcements in March 2020.
Photo courtesy of John Apicella

Although getting started in the business was not always easy, the market changed due to COVID-19 and his family’s guidance helped him succeed. He mentions that not going alone helps navigate this unstable climate.

“It can be daunting to start,” Apicella said. “You really don’t know anything and it’s basically trial and error. Joining a team can be beneficial because they provide you with leads and help you learn. But being young isn’t always a bad thing because [we] have advantages with marketing and social media. ”

For students looking to leave campus as an upper class or recent graduates looking to take the next step into adulthood, it’s important to prepare financially and mentally to enter this crazy market.

“Credit is obviously important,” Petruzziello said. “Do you want to keep this [credit card] balance at 50% or less than available [credit limit]. This will help your credit score. The other thing is you want to make sure you don’t have much, much to your credit — not a lot of debt. And in this market [having] flexibility as to where you want to live.

Apicella echoes this statement and recommends saving as much money as possible before buying or renting your own home, due to market volatility.

“If you can wait, save a little more, or maybe move in with your family, you’ll be better off when it comes to buying [or renting]“, said Apicella.

Going forward, the best way to prepare is to plan ahead. The real estate market is constantly changing and knowing what you want and how to get there is only half the battle.

“The idea is that you have a game plan,” Petruzziello said. “Having an idea in terms of timing [and] where you want to be. It’s never too early to sit down with a loan officer or real estate agent. Just give them an idea of ​​what you’re looking to do.

Anthony Laurita (second from right) attends an appreciation brunch for his United Real Estate agents in 2022. Photo courtesy of Andy Gonzalez

Anthony Laurita (second from right) attends an appreciation brunch for his United Real Estate agents in 2022.
Photo courtesy of Andy Gonzalez

A strategy that can help young people looking to buy is one that Anthony Laurita, broker and owner of United Real Estate North Jersey, believes in.

“I would be practical,” Laurita said. “I believe first-time home buyers should buy a multifamily home, if possible. So if you collect rent while living in a home you own, that [will] To attend to your needs. Many people want to be ahead of the market right away. Know your place in the market and build towards that dream home. Let your real estate work for you, instead of working for your real estate. If you learn to do this, you will never have to save money for real estate; the house will do it for you.