Student loan debt, lack of a down payment and even remembering the “financial carnage” of the last economic downturn, are all reasons millennials do not consider buying a home and turn to renting. Even though it’s been cheaper to buy a home than to rent since about 2012 or 2013. “It’s not that they don’t want to buy a home. They just believe they can’t afford to,” said Dan Green, CEO of Growella, a financial site that “pairs simple explanations with actionable steps so readers can make better, stronger choices with their money.” Green is also a former mortgage lender who believes with the right preparation and armed with the right knowledge, most people can afford a home.
(1) The best way to shop for a home is by “monthly budget” not by price.
A monthly budget makes the purchase more real as well as more practical. If you’ve never created a monthly budget, sit down with someone who has. Or, talk to a mortgage lender, banker or another financial expert who can teach you about what to expect in terms of insurance, maintenance costs, and related home expenses. Money expert Dave Ramsey recommends keeping your mortgage payment to no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage. Also, don’t forget to save a little extra each month to cover regular maintenance as well as well as future home improvements and furniture replacement.
(2) Statistically, most people move or refinance within 6 years – even millennials.
“So, don’t turn your back to the possibility of a 5- or 7-year adjustable-rate mortgage,” Green said. One of the things Green, and other realtors and mortgage lenders said was that many buyers don’t think to explore financing options with their lender. “That’s what we’re here for,” he said. “Talk to us and we can help you explore your options.”
(3) Get pre-approved for a mortgage, and be ready to share your social security number and income with a lender.
“You’re not getting pre-approved to find out what you already know, you’re getting pre-approved to find out what may get in the way of your buying a house,” Green said. “This pre-approval process gives you a chance to work on your credit rating, or tend to the things you didn’t know would affect your approval. It’s better to find out in the pre-approval process so you have time to fix things.”
(4) Get your own real estate agent – never use the seller’s real estate agent.
The seller’s agent is legally required to get the seller the “best deal possible.” The agent can’t do that for two people simultaneously. You may hear that it will “be cheaper” to just use the same agent, but it’s actually not.
(5) Avoid For Sale By Owner homes, as a first-time home buyer.
It’s tempting to think buying from a private party can save you money on a down payment or monthly mortgage, but that’s unrealistic thinking for a first-time home buyer. It takes a lot of people to coordinate a home sale. It’s not just the home buyer and the seller. There are attorneys and title agents, appraisers, and home inspectors. For someone who doesn’t have the experience of coordinating all that, it pushes back to the home buyer and it makes things difficult.