Buying your first home is just about the biggest financial decision you’ll make — and it has big implications for your life, too. But this step shouldn’t feel impossible to take, even if you’re still feeling the strain of concerns like student loans or credit card debt (as many Millennials are).
Indeed, Millennials are increasingly powering the housing market, according to 2018 data from the National Association of Realtors, and several recent surveys have revealed that majorities of millennials want to own a home rather than continuing to rent. Here are some tips to help any first-time buyer get started on the journey to homeownership.
Tip 1: Look For A Starter Home
Even though homeowners are moving less frequently, the median length of time people have owned their home rose to 8.7 years in 2016, according to an analysis by The New York Times. We mention this stat only to show you that even though the 30-year mortgage might still be conventional wisdom, making the decision to buy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll live in the house for 30 years. Life happens! If you’re currently renting and thinking about buying, it might be helpful to examine whether buying might actually might more financial sense. Calculators like this one from Mr. Cooper can help.
Tip 2: Don’t Rush
Countless studies have confirmed that student loan debt truly does affect homeownership. According to a Washington Post report, millennials are waiting an estimated 7 years before buying, while others across age groups encounter difficulties obtaining loans due to their debt-to-income ratio, according to CNBC. But personal finance experts say that student loans are not a deal breaker, so long as you have a good credit score, have stayed on top of your payments, and manage that debt-to-income ratio.
You’ll want to do your research on neighborhoods and calculate what you can afford, taking into account any debts. Experts tend to agree that even if you don’t think you’ll stay put forever, you’re still buying a home that you and your family will enjoy spending your life in.
Tip 3: Know the Must-Haves
Make a list of your must-haves, and your “nice to haves.” When you’re viewing houses, everything outside of your “must haves” is a bonus that could come at a cost. This could help you stick to the budget you should have set up front.
Tip 4: Face Those Fears
Buyers, first-time or otherwise, overwhelmingly want expert help throughout the home ownership process, research shows. And in fact, “at 90 percent, millennials were the most likely to purchase a home through a real estate agent, and help understanding the buying process was cited as the top benefit millennials said their agent provided (75 percent),” according to the National Association of Realtors 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study.
Home ownership can be a scary endeavor — but with the right guidance, it can be a most rewarding journey. Click here to read our home buying guide and learn more about everything from down payments to closing.