One of the first things people ask when the meet me is how I managed to become a home owner. When I tell them that I was just 22 when I closed on my town home, the questions usually start flowing. How on earth does a twenty-something make such a large and important purchase? While it is not easy, it is certainly not impossible, and it really can be a sound financial decision for your future.
If you think about it, most 20-somethings spend a large portion of their income on living expenses like rent and utilities. Instead of just giving that money to someone and never seeing it again, how cool would it be if that money could go into an investment? Let’s face it, rent is money that you are literally throwing away, but a mortgage payment is something that goes toward your ownership of a property, something most people don’t obtain until much later in life.
Now, there are some major challenges to buying a house in your 20’s, one of the main ones being that you have to have already decided where you want to live, unless you plan to simply buy the property as an investment and rent it out, but that’s another topic entirely. Many 20-somethings are figuring their lives out and that includes where they want to spend it. For me, the choice to stay in the city where I went to college was one that I fell into, but I don’t regret it for a second. I have my home here and a job I love, I just have to hope the other things fall in to place.
Another challenge is that you may also believe that you won’t qualify financially for a home. After all, buying a house is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, but the reality is that now is one of the best times that you could possibly be in the market to buy a home. Many houses are selling for way under their market value as the economy tries to make a comeback. Homes that us 20-somethings might never have gotten approved for 5 years ago are now within reach today.
If you are seriously thinking about buying a home in your 20’s, here are the three main things you need to do before you buy.
1. Get your finances in order and begin talking to a mortgage broker about your financial options. Before you can go home shopping, you need to know how much home you can afford. Find out how much your monthly mortgage payments would be and make sure you factor in any homeowner’s association costs plus utilities and home repair. Many 20-somethings will qualify for FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans, which require minimal down payments on homes (I did and my down payment was less than $5K.
2. Find a reputable real estate agent whom you trust and who listens to your needs. Trust me, you need an agent. They can negotiate deals that would make your head spin. My agent was able to get the price of my house knocked down by nearly $50K and he found out about homes that weren’t even on the open market yet. He was a major source of support when one of my deals didn’t go through. I can’t stress this enough: you need an agent.
3. Decide how much home you need. Do you want to live in a condo, a townhouse, or a single family home? Do you want to have to take care of a yard and landscaping? Do you need a garage? When I was home shopping, I was shown houses that had garages and yards, but I knew that I simply did not want to deal with any of that stuff. I ended up buying a 2 bedroom 2.5 bath townhouse because I didn’t want to live in a condo building and I wanted to rent out my second bedroom to make my mortgage more affordable. I also knew that 2 bedrooms would be great while I was single, but if I did meet someone and we wanted to live in my house, 2 bedrooms would be space enough. I also needed an in-home washer/dryer and big closets. Decide your non-negotiable up front.
Buying a home as a 20-something is neither crazy nor impossible. True, there are many pros and cons to buying a home at such a young age, but for me, the positives outweighed every negative aspect that came up. Something to always remember is that if five years down the road you did change your mind and want to move somewhere else, renting out your home is always an option. Once you invest in a home, that investment is yours and yours alone. Though being a single, 20-something, female homeowner is not always a walk in the park, it is something that I have not regretted in the nearly four years I have owned my home.
Teacher Girl is a 20-something lifestyle blogger who blogs at www.teachergirlblogs.com. Have more questions about buying a home? Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tgblogs.