Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he has been trying his hand at being a freelance writer. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.
Right now, many millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) are entering a new phase in their lives. Those on the older end of the spectrum are set in their careers, and the youngsters born later are mostly out of college and ready to start the next chapter. For many, part of that new adventure in life includes buying a home and starting a family. Unfortunately, with high home prices and an occasional lack of funds, getting a home is not as easy as it sounds for many millennials.
However, there is hope. For those that believe that homeownership is too out of reach, remember that you are not the first person who has struggled with the decision to buy a house, and you won’t be the last. Luckily, many tips and tricks can make the process easier and less stressful. Let’s look at how you can make your goal of buying a house a reality.
Get the Facts
There is a common misconception among millennials that the idea of homeownership is too difficult or out-of-reach. There are a variety of reasons for this way of thinking. Some believe that homeownership requires too much upkeep or that they can’t afford the utilities. Many millennials believe that buying a house restricts their freedom and will prohibit them from being able to leave on the fly or work anywhere they desire.
Because of these ideas, millennials are renting more than they are buying. Renting an apartment is fine for a temporary solution, but you’re not really getting anything out of it. There are no tax benefits, the payments never stop and may even go up, and once you leave, you leave. You don’t have anything that you can call your own. When you buy a house, you not only get that feeling of homeownership, but you may actually save money due to first-time homebuyer tax credits and access to state programs.
If you are still on the fence, then the first tip is to take some time to research the market and learn more about what homeownership is all about. If a certain house catches your eye, keep an eye on it and see how the price fluctuates. This will help you to understand the right time to buy as well as get a better understanding of how much money you will need to make the purchase. The common advice is to pay 20% of the price of the home upfront in the form of a down payment. Determine if that is an achievable cost with your current situation, and if it is, strike when you can.
The Money Issue
That brings us to the other major issue that millennials have when it comes to ownership, which is the cost and how to afford it. Many young people feel that they don’t have the money because they are just starting a new job or they aren’t married so they don’t have the dual income that many homeowners have. This is where shopping around can make a big difference. Look at how much you spend on rent and then compare that with the cost of a mortgage payment each month. Are you that far off? You can find out that information with an online mortgage calculator.
If you need to make adjustments, then you can look at your whole financial picture by creating a budget. This detailed report should include all of the money that you bring in each month, along with a complete list of your monthly expenses. If you are serious about homeownership, look at what unnecessary costs you can take out. Do you need to buy coffee and lunch at restaurants each day? Can you ride your bike to work instead of driving? Even if home prices are high right now, you can still use your budget to add more cash to your savings account and then pounce when the time is right.
Along with a down payment, you are also going to need a good credit score and a relatively clean credit report. Most experts recommend a score of at least 620, but if you have a higher score, you can get a better interest rate and pay even less on your mortgage payments. If your score isn’t quite there or you have been denied a home loan due to bad credit, all is not lost. Instead, put the house on the back burner for now and spend some time paying down your debts and resist the urge to take out any new credit cards. Also, check your credit report for errors. If any are found, contact the credit bureau. You can also look for alternative lending options, like those offered by the USDA loan program.
Ask Questions and Get Help
While money is important, knowing what you really want out of a home is essential so you make a smart purchasing decision and avoid buyer’s remorse. You’ll want to think about what you need now and what you’ll need in the future. For instance, if you are looking for a home that you will live in for the long term, you might want to find a house with extra rooms in the case that you have children. If that is the plan, you’ll also want a house that is located within a good school district. Plan for the future so you don’t have to move again before you are ready.
Along with a future family, there are many other questions that you will want to ask yourself with each house you watch. Like how close is it to your place of employment? If it isn’t as close as you would like, is there at least public transportation available? How is the neighborhood? Do some research online with a focus on important factors such as crime rate, nearby parks, and proximity to stores that you frequent.
Due to their inexperience, millennials would be wise to get the help and expertise of a professional realtor to navigate them through the homebuying process. A realtor can help you find great options and negotiate a lower price for your dream home. While you are touring potential houses, a realtor can also give you advice and warn you if aspects of the home are not in line with your needs.
The lesson here is that by asking the right questions, creating a budget, and enlisting the help of a realtor, anyone can make homeownership a reality, even young millennials. Start planning now, and in time, you will get the home of your dreams.