Homebuying Truths for Millennials in the Market

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June 24, 2014 by Bill Johnson


In previous generations, many people bought “starter” homes while in their 20s or 30s. The world moved at a much slower pace then. People tended to stay put in the cities where they grew up. They wanted ‘roots’ and the status that homeownership afforded. But times have definitely changed. In the next generation of real estate, we’re a much more mobile society. Millennials, Generations X and Y don’t necessarily want to be tied down by roots. They want the freedom to travel, or to take that new job, whether it’s in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Dubai.

Keep in mind that in some markets, renting is as expensive as buying.

Homeownership doesn’t have the same status to them that it had to earlier generations. And, they’ve heard the horror stories of homeownership from those who bought during the market high only to see their home values plummet during the recession. But there are still many who want to be homeowners. And, the approach is different now than it may have been a generation ago. If you’re in your 20s or 30s today and considering buying a home vs. renting, here are some things to consider.

Don’t assume you can’t afford to buy. So many young people come out of college with student debt and very little savings. Even after a few years out of college, they assume they either don’t have the 20 percent down payment or don’t have the income to afford a purchase

That doesn’t mean that if you’re in your 20s, you can’t afford to buy a home. Around the country, mortgage brokers, bankers and direct lenders are lending more than ever. Loan options such as those from the FHA (Federal Housing Authority) enable qualifying first-time buyers to purchase with as little as 5 percent down.

Is it wise to put down less than 20 percent? Not always. But if you’re credit-worthy and responsible with money, you can take advantage of the record low interest rates and loan options that exist today.

Keep in mind that in some markets, renting is as expensive as buying. If you do your homework, you may understand that a home purchase is within your reach.

Don’t go it alone: With today’s easy access to online listings, most people old and young believe you don’t need a real estate agent. People assume that the role of the agent, pre-Internet, was primarily providing access to the “keys.” In reality, agents have always played such a bigger role, one that many people don’t realize until they’ve gone through a transaction. A good local agent has years of intellectual capital inside his or her head.

Agents know the market like no one else because they’ve been inside hundreds of homes, have relationships with many of the agents and have done many deals. They know exactly what to do when a red flag arises. Additionally, the home purchase is both personal and emotional. Through the years, buyers have acknowledged how they’ve let their emotions get the best of them to kill an opportunity. But having a solid resource beside them at all times — the agent — has helped keep them in check.

Ask your parents for advice: Your parents likely bought real estate in a different market, wheninterest rates were north of 12 percent and they were without access to the Web and online listings. But they have that home buying experience. They have been through the market before and can add value to your home search. They may be out of touch with social media and the technology available to help in the home buying process, but they likely have a solid financial opinion or helpful feedback. Plus, your parents simply have more grey hair and life experiences that have informed them about home buying and finances.

Read more: Homebuying Truths for Millennials in the Market

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