Australia is undergoing a bit of a housing crisis, with the average home in Sydney costing 12.2 times the household income. Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister, put himself in hot water when he responded to complaints that it was near impossible for young people to buy a first home.
“You should shell out for them. You should support them, a wealthy man like you,” he told a radio host when asked about children buying homes. It was meant in jest, but came across as suggesting that if young people really wanted homes, they would have richer parents.
We know that the average person under 30 y.o. isn’t that lucky. Many of you would like to escape the renting life and have a home to call your own…but the complex processes and specter of huge payments are intimidating.
We decided to scour Twitter to see what questions twentysomethings have about the homebuying process to see if we can help. Let’s see what they’re saying…
This is the most common question asked by new homebuyers, and we don’t blame you! You should expect to pay 10 to 20 percent of the home’s cost upfront, and that’s a lot of money.
Sometimes you can pay less upfront but keep in mind what that means down the line. If you make a larger down payment, that means you can get a lower rate and lower monthly mortgage payments, and maybe even avoid the mortgage insurance requirement.
Many states have programs developed to assist first-time homebuyers, so do some research and see what help you can get from the government (unless you’re in Australia).
The government shouldn’t be your first option for help, however. Speak to a lender! They know every facet of the local real estate market, they can give you good targets for what you can afford, and can get you pre-certified or preapproved, which are huge steps toward buying a home.
This is another question that doesn’t have a black-and-white answer, but we would recommend waiting until you have at least a 620 credit score before attempting to get a loan. If you can get to 660, even better. The latter number is the point at which it’s fairly guaranteed that you’ll be accepted for a mortgage of some kind. If you’re below that number and you’ll be in “subprime mortgage” territory, where your rates won’t be as good as if you had a “good” credit rating (if you get accepted at all).
It will benefit you to consider waiting to buy if it means you can improve your credit, however. The higher your credit score, the better the rates you can get, and the more money you’ll save in the long run. You can boost your credit by making sure to pay all of your bills on time, and by not starting new lines of credit in the lead up to applying for a loan. No new credit cards…no new cars…it might be painful now, but you can buy a new set of wheels with all that money you’ll save on mortgage payments!
For the sake of avoiding bias (we love working in South Florida) and speaking to a wider audience, we’ll offer help on finding optimal cities and neighborhoods to keep your budget realistic—no matter where in the country you live. Of course, if you do live in Florida, we’d love to help you out in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Boca Raton or anywhere in between.
Many young people aim to live in the trendiest areas, and that comes at a cost. Your best bet is to be a trendsetter and find something within reasonable distance from your ideal neighborhood. One Zillow study showed, for example, that housing prices increased 10 percent just two years after a Trader Joe’s is built in a neighborhood. Do some research and scout for cheaper residences that will build equity quickly, such as those near forthcoming developments.
You’re nervous because you’ve just made one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever be faced with, and it’s OK to feel some jitters about it. For you, personally, we recommend you take a few months and keep on saving as if you’re still trying to raise a down payment. It’s best to have a “rainy day” fund in your bank account when you buy a new home, and those looking for property should plan for this when determining their budget.
Don’t sap your entire savings on a home—always keep three to six months worth of savings for emergencies or otherwise. You never know—especially in a new home—when something will malfunction and need repairs. If a pipe breaks in the basement and you don’t have anything left over to fix it…good luck. Better to have a smaller, dryer home than a big, wet home.
If you still have questions—and there are plenty you can ask—leave a comment below and we’ll reply as soon as possible!