Why Millennials Should Wait to Buy a Home
Buying your first home is an exciting time, given the dozens of financial and lifestyle benefits that come with owning the roof you sleep under. What's more, interest rates are still low, hitting 4.3% for a 30-year fixed loan this month, making it a good time to borrow money. According to the latest Trulia survey, 68% of Millennials are in the market for a home priced at $200,000 or lower.
Purchasing a place isn't necessarily the right move for everyone, though. Despite all of the positives of home ownership, there are some very compelling reasons not to rush into a mortgage right now. Here are seven.
You Lose Flexibility
Home ownership provides stability, but that may not always be a good thing when you are in your career-building years. If you are looking for a promotion, an advance, or job change, you may have to relocate to get to that next level. You need to have the ability to move on short notice, maybe even as fast as 30 to 60 days. Having to sell your home quickly could force you to offer it up at a bargain price, in addition to incurring thousands of dollars of closing costs. Sellers typically pay their realtors six percent of the selling price.
There's No Room For Baby
Millennials are in the prime years for starting families. You may not have one now, but there's a good chance that will change in the near future. While that cozy home or downtown condo may sound ideal now, you'll likely feel different as a party of three. After all, pregnancies as well as the first few months of a newborn are stressful enough. Having to find a larger place to live, sell your house and pack your belongings with a due date looming- or a newborn- can be unbearably stressful and costly. It may even put you in the red.
Moving Within Five Years Will Cost You
If for any reason you think you may not be able to stay in your home for five to seven years, you should not buy. It will be cheaper to rent. The rule of thumb used to be seven years, but now that the housing market is stabilizing, that timeline has shifted slightly. With only moderate market appreciation, it will generally take five years for you to recoup the many thousands of buying, selling, and carrying costs. Keep in mind that in the first years of your mortgage, you won’t be building up too much equity. Banks charge a hefty portion of your interest upfront, with very little going to your principal in the first few years.
Small Down Payments Bring Added Risk
If you don’t have enough money saved for a traditional down payment, don’t buy a house right now. I am a big proponent of 20% down. That is not always feasible for most Millennials starting out, and it is lot of money to have saved up. But, unfortunately, it is the safest, most conservative approach to home ownership. If you can’t bank on Mom and Dad for a leg up on the down payment, then think about saving for a few more years.
You Carry Too Much Debt
You can't overlook your student loans, car loans, and any other debt you have accumulated. Consider paying it down first, particularly credit card debt. Not only can a home purchase slow your debt reduction plan-likely costing you more in interest- banks will not be willing to approve you for a loan if your debt payments eat up a significant share of your income.
Your Job Security is Shaky
First, purchasing a home with today’s new qualified loan standards requires some consistent job history. When you’re in the early stages of your career, there may be jumps and gaps in your resume, which can make getting approved for a mortgage a challenge. What's more, job situations can change overnight. Once you own a place, losing a job, suffering periods of unemployment, and living on a lower income are not as easily weathered. You may even need to accept a new job with a lower salary, but your housing costs will remain the same. You won’t be able to quickly downsize, and want to avoid needing to sell out of financial desperation.
You'll End Up Cash Poor
Buying a home often leaves cash poor. After you come up with the down payment, the closing costs, and any renovation that you need to make prior to moving in, your bank account likely looks depleted. Having few dollars to your name is likely not the way you want to start living the ‘American Dream.’ Thus delay buying until you make sure you will have enough cash leftover to weather a job loss, an unexpected emergency, or even a health issue that could impact your earning power. You don’t want to end up house rich, cash poor and nothing to rely on in an emergency. Life happens.
More from Trulia:
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8 Ways to Make Your Home Offer Stand Out
Michael Corbett is Trulia‘s real estate and lifestyle expert. He hosts NBC’s EXTRA’s Mansions and Millionaires and has authored three books on real estate, including Before You Buy!