Brouk and Schmittgens lived separately with their parents as they spent months searching for just the right home. They found it in Imperial, a town of 5,000 a half-hour south of St. Louis. They agreed to the $140,000 asking price the day the home hit the market, grabbing it before other buyers could make an offer.
The brick home, on two-thirds of an acre, lies on a quiet cul-de-sac adjoining a wooded area. It needed some work. The young couple replaced the carpets and painted the walls. Next up, they'll redo the kitchen cabinets and finish the basement.
Still, Brouk said," it kind of ended up being everything we wanted."
Another millennial, Kelsey Funk, paid $113,000 last year for a three-bedroom home that sits near the historic Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri, another suburb.
"What surprised me was how affordable it is," said Funk, a 26-year-old real estate agent. "My monthly payment is way cheaper than rent. The cost to rent was generally $900 to $1,000. My mortgage is now $690. And it's something I own."
"Millennials in many markets are just locked out," said Jim Dohr, president of Coldwell Banker Gundaker, the largest real estate firm in St. Louis. "We're bucking the trend. It all comes back to affordability."
Low prices have benefited housing markets throughout the Midwest, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Realtor.com.
"I think affordability turns into a major selling point for the market - not just for individuals who stay there and put down roots, but also to attract other people, including attracting businesses," Smoke said.
For Funk, there's nothing like the pride and contentment of having her own home.
"Once you own, it's a totally different feeling," she said. "You actually feel like a grown-up."