They say millennials can’t afford a house. They say you have to rent. They say you have to be married to own a home. What they don’t say is, there is another way!
You can buy your own place, even if you’re a debt-burdened millennial and even if you are single. Because 20-somethings are seen as mostly unable to secure a good paying job, the general opinion is they can’t afford to buy a home. Public opinion seems to go with the flow as there are many articles on how millennials are changing the real estate market. While it’s true that many millennials value the laid back, carefree lifestyle that comes with renting, there is a way to own your own home before turning 30. You just have to stick to a set of strong rules and make sure nothing changes your mind. I know this because I’ve seen it. My cousin is lucky enough to have her own place and she’s 5 years younger than I am, earning only $38,000 per year!
1. Figure out what you want
The first step is to figure out what you want. Most millennials are fleeing towards NY or some other high-end city, in the pursuit of better jobs. This is great, but do you really want to live in that city? Would you prefer being closer to home? Or, maybe you’d like to find a whole new place to live.
Figuring out what you want is an important step in the quest for home ownership, as owning means having to stick to a place for a long period of time, like 5-10 years.
At the same time, make sure the job you have is the job you want. If you’re planning to change careers, put your plans of owning a home on pause until you’ve decided what your perfect job is.
2. Pay attention to your credit
Most millennials have low or no credit score, which makes it difficult to get a mortgage. Before you apply for a mortgage you need to take care of this issue. If you have no credit, open a credit card and set a low limit, then pay it each month to build your score. If you already have a credit card keep the balances below 30% or below the credit limit. This will increase your credit score.
3. Learn how much you can afford
Getting a mortgage means you’ll have extra expenses and before you take the step you have to be able to afford it. Spend time with an online mortgage calculator and check how different monthly payments affect your interest rate and down payment. Also, research different types of mortgages and loans to make sure you are making the best choice.
When you know how much can you spend and which program is right for you, get your mortgage pre-approved. You can do this online and it will help you secure the mortgage loan.
4. Research down payment assistance and other helpers
There are many great down payment assistance programs out there that can be supportive when buying your first house. However, you need to research them to the core! There will be a lot of paperwork to fill out but in the end, you might walk away with a good amount of money. For example, in Atlanta, you can get around $15,000 in down payment assistance with the right qualifiers.
Research other options that might help you, such as a reverse mortgage, lowering your PMI in the future or challenging the tax assessment. All these can help you lower your payments in the future, or even right after you purchase the house. The key is to be informed!
5. Start saving for the down payment
The next step is saving as much as possible. My cousin set her initial target at 30% of her already small revenue, then modified it to 25% and managed to stick with the plan, mostly. You will be amazed at how much money we spend on useless things and how much we can save! If you can stack some cash from a side activity like a blog, a skill or a hobby, do it! Save for at least a year before you apply for the mortgage. This money will become your down payment and the more you have, the better.
6. Research the house
Another critical step of buying a house at a young age is researching the building before making the purchase. Visit the house you want multiple times, at different times of the day, attend community meetings, and familiarize yourself with the neighborhood.
Never buy a house you can’t afford, this will result in failure. Research the taxes on the house you want to buy, along with any fees or liens, and do your calculations before making the final step. Good, in-depth research ensures you won’t end up with an unwanted surprise after the buy.
Don’t aim for the highest limits of your approved mortgage. If you can find a house you love for less money, go for it!
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