I never thought I’d want to buy a home before I was married, yet alone in my 20s. Nevertheless with my boyfriend being in the U.S. Coast Guard. I began to stress about if we ever would buy a home. It never made sense to me to buy a home if we would have to move four years later.
Recently, the thought of buying a home has become more realistic for myself. I was lucky enough to live with family for a few years after my college graduation and now I am renting. It is sickening to me, knowing my money is disappearing on a house that I won’t live in for more than a year.
Nowadays, many Millennials refrain from owning a home mostly because of these two reasons.
The first reason being, they wait until marriage because at that point in their life, they probably have a better idea of where they want to live (like myself), stability in the workplace, etc. The second one is they value having a low-key, low-maintenance lifestyle. Home ownership often doesn't fit this value point.
But, owning a home is still a great money move in most areas. Here are some tips on how to buy a home in your 20s.
Be sure where you want to live.
I am originally from Upstate New York and moved down to Florida for school. Having that experience of living far away from home was an amazing thing because it taught me what I did and did not want. I knew that living back home was not for me.
My current situation is a little different. With my boyfriend being in the U.S. Coast Guard, it gives us plenty of opportunity to visit many places to decide what we like best before we settle down and put our official “roots” into a house.
After you're absolutely sure on where you want to live for the the next three to five years, it's time to roll up your sleeves and figure out how much you want to spend and can afford.
Build up your credit.
Twenty-somethings may have low (or no) credit, which means you'll have a hard time getting approved for a mortgage. Something small you can do if you have no credit, is open up a credit card with a small limit. The key to this is to be sure to pay it off every month.
If you do have established credit, be sure to review your credit report. It is important to keep your balances at 30 percent or below your credit limit in order to increase your score. Also, be sure to pay all your balances on time.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will give you an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on a home and is easier than you might think. This Bankrate calculator plays with the numbers to see how your monthly payment would be affected, depending on your interest rate and down payment. You can get pre-qualified with any lender. Often, you can quickly do this right online. You should also be aware of the types of loan products that exist. It is important to use the loan that works best for you. Since my boyfriend is Active Duty, we will have the VA loan available to us. The VA loan is very beneficial to military families because it does not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance premium.
Having a lower down payment helps ease a lot of the financial hurdles that come with owning a home.
SAVE consistently before buying.
Now that you know how much you can afford for a mortgage, it’s time to think about a down payment. That means trimming the budget and saving, saving, saving.
Some small things to do would be to steadily save a percentage of your paycheck and/or putting any extra money made right into your savings account (side jobs, bonuses, tax refunds etc.).
The most important thing is to set a goal and put aside money consistently for 6 to 12 months before you want to buy. This will help build up your down payment fund. That money could also go towards closing costs.
Get down payment assistance.
Make sure to research every down payment assistance and grant program you can find. It will provide you with a set amount of money to be qualified as a homebuyer.
Know what you’re buying.
It is not only important to worry about the finances of the home but to look into the home itself and its surroundings. Even when I am finding a house to rent, I make sure to do this.
You want to get to know the neighborhood and areas around the home so you are aware of all that comes with it. Driving past the home in the morning, afternoon, and night is one way to get an idea of the people and traffic around your future home. To dig a little deeper, you could read press releases and news articles about the activity in the area or maybe do some Google digging.
If your neighborhood has a neighborhood association group, that is one way to meet people in your community and get involved. It could really make all the difference in the home that you choose.
If you can’t afford it, DON’T buy it.
This is probably the biggest advice I could give 20-somethings who are looking to buy a house. While having a low salary, large student loan payments and other variables in your budget, it's important to buy a home you can comfortably afford.
Extra finances to keep in mind will making your budget include your mortgage, taxes, fees, insurance and maintenance costs. Here's another awesome calculator that can help you figure out how much you can afford.
Also, remember this: Just because you have been approved for an amount, doesn't mean you have to buy up to that limit.
Home ownership is smart, but it can be expensive if you don't prepare.