Buying a home is a stressful situation no matter what age. But what if you are 25 or younger? Barely out of college or working for a few years, some of these millennials are actually making the American dream of homeownership a reality despite all the surveys and research saying that generation is delaying this part of life.
Millennials — those born from 1980 to 1995 – have stated many lifestyle and financial reasons why owning a home just isn’t for them right now. In fact, the amount of first-time home buyers has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years.
But some young adults are bucking the trend and becoming home owners in all parts of the U.S.
Home Buying Success Stories
Seanna and Jeff Asper, both 24, of Columbus, Missouri
After a bad experience with the first house they put an offer on and got their hearts broken, they swore off buying a house.
“We had such a horrible experience with our realtor and didn’t think we could find anything that truly fit our needs,” Seanna says. “In December 2015, on a whim, I started searching for homes again, and there were a few that caught my eye. However, it was the home that got listed in a Facebook group on for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) houses that really got my attention.”
The couple decided to get another realtor to show them a few houses and then went to look at the FSBO by themselves.
“We regarded this purchase much differently than the first time. We didn’t become emotionally attached and truly looked at it from an investment standpoint,” she states.
Within a week, they had the house under contract without realtors and simply used a closing attorney.
The couple used a local bank, got a VA loan – because Jeff is in the Air Force – and received an “awesome” interest rate of 3.5 percent, Seanna says.
The home is almost 15 years old, has three bedrooms, an open floor plan and a huge front and backyard.
“It’s situated on a full acre and gives us a ton of room for entertaining outdoors, which we love to do,” she says.
Nate and Heather, both 24, of Phoenix, Arizona
Even with $38,000 in student debt, this young married couple was able to buy a house in June 2015 for $185,000. They received a FHA loan with a 3.49 percent interest rate. But they qualified for a loan of over $300,000.
“We knew we didn’t need that much of a house at our age. On top of that, we didn’t want that large of mortgage payment that would prevent us from putting extra money towards out student loans,” says Nate, who works in the digital marketing industry and writes the blog, hackingyourbudget.com.
In the end, they pay $1,069 a month for the mortgage, taxes, private mortgage insurance and homeowners insurance. It ended up being only slightly more expensive than what they were paying for an apartment once the rent had gone up.
“We began saving about a year in advance while anticipating that we would put 3-6 percent down,” he says. “Instead of an intense search that included long days with a realtor, we actually kept a keen eye on Zillow for homes we wanted to look at in the areas.”
Using a family friend that is a real estate agent, the couple found a house they liked online and were able to look at the home the same day they first contacted their friend.
“We offered $195,000 on this home, and it was accepted. It was the first house we had seen and within 24 hours, we had an offer on the table. But in the inspection, we discovered there was structural issues with how the home was updated and decided to back out,” Nate explains.
One day after backing out of the previous house, a new home in the neighborhood popped up for sale for $185,000. So, they looked at it and had an offer in 24 hours later for the three-bedroom, two-bathroom property.
“We don’t feel like we were rushing our decision despite the oddity of our search because we were spending so much time researching homes online,” he says.
The offer was accepted, an additional $2,500 was taken off after the inspection, and in 30 days, they were moved into the house.
“Overall, the process was definitely stressful simply because there were so many unknown steps. But we were able to get through it because we asked a tone of questions to our realtor, mortgage broker, family and friends,” he says. “We made sure to have plenty of resources around us so we could always ask someone.”
James Merse, 23, of Bloomfield, New Jersey
After realizing how much money he was spending on rent, James, a healthcare communications professional, decided that for less money each month, he could own his own home. He just closed and moved into his own condo in January.
“I qualified with no problems for a loan up to $300,000 and purchased a condo on my own just under $150,000. The condo itself is similar to apartments I’ve lived in,” he says. “The only difference is instead of dishing out $1,100 a month for a one-bedroom and having nothing at the end of the day, I now pay $1,000 a month, and it’s mine.”
He does pay home owner association fees of $208 a month which includes heat and hot water. He also has a laundry facility on site, a two-car garage and storage cage in the basement.
The condo offers a huge living room, and the bathroom and kitchen are full functioning and clean, but can use a few minor updates which helped on the price. His plan is to keep paying bigger chunks of money on the principal over the next two years, and then refinance and possibly add a second unit into the mix and start renting to make money.
“I got a first-time home buyers loan. So, I only needed to put down 5 percent, which was key for me because coming up with the down payment was difficult initially, considering I had to still pay for life and its challenges,” he says.
At work, people tell him that he’s crazy to buy a house so young, and most of them think they can’t afford it themselves.
“But that’s not true. The right savings’ plan combined with the right price and location, it’s totally doable,” he says.
Lee Nelson of the Chicago area writes for national and regional magazines, websites, and business journals. Her work has recently appeared in Realtor.org, Nurse.org, Yahoo! Homes, ChicagoStyle Weddings, and a bi-weekly blog in Unigo.com.