First-Time Boston Area Homebuyers Decline

While housing continues to make a steady recovery, the percentage of first-time Boston area homebuyers remains very low. At only 32% of all home purchases, first-time buyer totals have fallen to the lowest level in almost thirty years.

Why Boston Area Homebuyers Aren’t Buying

The percentage of first-time Boston area homebuyers remains very low.

Despite market conditions seemingly being favorable for first-time buyers, they simply aren’t getting involved. Low mortgage rates, promising employment opportunities for college-educated prospects, and rising rents ordinarily would signal a ripe opportunity for those looking to buy their first home. However, according to a recent survey, those same increasing rents and higher home prices are hindrances to young couples trying to save money for a down payment. Factor in the scarcity of new and existing homes in an entry-level, affordable price range, and it’s easier to see why first-timers are hesitant to enter the market. Many still think it may be too difficult for them to qualify for a mortgage.

Survey respondents cited debt as the major factor for putting off buying a home. They said too much debt prevents them from saving sufficient money for a down payment. And over half of those surveyed specifically blame student-loan debt.

Ironically, younger buyers still have a strong desire to own their own home. Of first-time buyers that made a purchase, 64% say their primary reason for buying was their “desire to own” rather than rent. That percentage represents an 11% increase from just one year ago.

Repeat home buyers surveyed cited their desire for a larger home as the main reason that motivated them to purchase. Many feel even though home prices are high, the values are rising as well and with interest rates near all-time lows there’s no better time for them to upgrade.

A majority of those surveyed — 80%, in fact — viewed home ownership as a good long-term investment, with 43% saying that home ownership was a better investment than the stock market.

The report was released during which time the U.S. home ownership rate is at its lowest level in 50 years, 63.4%. That rate leveled off in the third quarter of this year, marking the first time since 2013.

Other interesting survey findings were as follows:

Cash purchases still comprise a large percentage of home transactions. While most buyers needed mortgage loans to buy their homes, that percentage dipped slightly. Not surprisingly, roughly 50% of first-time buying prospects cited the mortgage approval process as being more extensive and more cumbersome than they anticipated.

Today’s Boston area homebuyers have the highest average FICO credit scores in history. And more borrowers are qualifying for mortgage loans — notably so among middle-income black and Hispanic borrowers — even though they comprise a smaller percentage of the total housing market.

As expected in this technology-driven world, today’s home buyers are utilizing mobile apps and real estate websites more and more to search properties and mortgage rates. They are also making quicker decisions and taking action faster than ever. Statistics show buyers purchase their homes on average in 10 weeks compared to 12 weeks during the period between 2009 and 2013.

What does this all mean for first-time Boston area homebuyers? First-timers hesitant to become purchasers need to be more aware of low down payment mortgage programs. In addition, if their credit is relatively good, financing should be available at low interest rates. And, even though home sales prices are high, so are rents. So, they should take a look at purchasing while the time may be right for them.

Get more up to date news and tips for Boston area homebuyers by checking out our other articles under the Boston area Real Estate News section just below Boston area Real Estate Categories to your right. And don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and Twitter for even more updates daily.

Boston Area Homebuyers Playing Waiting Game

The effects of a down economy over the past few years has taken its toll on first-time Boston area homebuyers. Industry experts cite the inability of young Americans to accumulate savings for down payments and an unstable job market as major reasons. The result is they are sitting on the sidelines longer than ever before jumping into the home buying market.

It is taking longer for young Boston area homebuyers to be able to purchase their first home

According to the well-known real estate data source, Zillow, first-time buyers now rent for six years before deciding to buy — more than double the time from a generation ago. And, Zillow says, the average age of a first-time buyer is 33, three years older than their parents’ generation which was around age 30.

Financial Challenges Facing Boston Area Homebuyers

Millenials are having trouble saving sufficient cash to make down payments. But that’s not all. According to Census Bureaus reports they’re slower in reaching certain traditional benchmarks such as marriage, having children and career decisions. As a result, homeownership has declined to a nearly 50-year low of 63.4%.

By waiting to purchase, many Boston area homebuyers are paying higher prices for their first homes when compared to their incomes. At slightly over $140,000, today’s first-timers pay more than 2.5 times their annual income. A generation ago, a first home was roughly 1.7 times a borrowers annual income.

Zillow reports that millennials want to buy, but are forced to wait until they have children. And with rental rates continuing to rise, many prospective first-time Boston area homebuyers find it difficult — even impossible — to save enough money for a down payment to qualify for most mortgages. Another factor in waiting to buy seems to be their penchant for job security and stability. Not surprisingly, for a generation that first broke into the labor force during a recession, they recognize the importance of finding, keeping and thriving in a job or profession. As such, the timetable for Boston area homebuyers depends largely on employment stability.

Housing experts say this trend will likely continue, as millennials’ habits remain unchanged as a result of higher rents and the increasing importance of finding and securing their place in the workforce.

See more articles pertaining to Boston area homebuyers in the Boston Home Buying Tips section, or the Boston Real Estate News section of our site just below Boston Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Remember, we also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out there too.

Rent Trap Stopping First Time Boston Area Homebuyers

First time Boston area homebuyers are in a trap they can’t seem to get out of, and it’s called a “Rent Trap.”

First time Boston area homebuyers seem to be caught in a rent trap they cannot get out of.

Everyone has pretty much come to the conclusion that interest rates won’t stay low much longer, and home prices continue to rise. New three percent down programs from Fannie and Freddie sweeten the deal for new buyers. FHA’s mortgage insurance premium cut makes FHA affordable again. Incomes are up.

To top it all off, greedy landlords everywhere seem to be practically pushing their tenants out the door, with rents rising every month. Rent vs buy comparisons show renters how much they are losing by staying put. According to Reis, Inc., the average US monthly rent has climbed 14 percent in the past five years—double the rate of home price appreciation. Rents rose 3.5% last year according to Zillow, which forecasts another 3.5% hike this year. Rents are forecasted to keep rising in 2016, though record numbers of new apartment openings are expected to slow down increases to about 2 percent, according to Zillow.

Renters Not Rushing to Become Boston Area Homebuyers

In what could be considered a reverse trend, rising rents do not appear to be playing a significant role in motivating renters to become Boston area homebuyers. This contradicts what some in the housing market think as they expect more renters ought to be actively looking to purchase a home. Rising rents are primarily a sign of increased demand rather than a signal that home purchases will be increasing.

Instead of acting as an incentive to buy a home, rent hikes are keeping renters captive by siphoning off cash that otherwise might have been saved to make a down payment or pay closing costs. Even to save the 3 percent down required of the new Fannie and Freddie programs, it takes two years or more for the average first-time Boston area homebuyers to muster enough for a down payment. Every time rent increases, it’s going to take even longer to save enough to become a homeowner.

In the past, renters making the national median income could expect to pay about 25 percent of their income on a typical apartment. Today, renters should expect to spend roughly 30 percent of their income on the median apartment

Find more news pertaining to the recent number of Boston area home sales under our Boston area Real Estate News Section of articles to your right just below our Boston area Real Estate Categories.

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Boston Area Homebuyers Understand Credit Scores

95 percent of Boston area homebuyers know that credit scores play a significant role when purchasing a home, and those who know their credit scores feel better prepared to buy. This recent data comes from a survey from Experian Consumer Services. In addition, 45 percent of future Boston area homebuyers say they have delayed buying a home in order to work on their credit so that they can qualify for a better interest rate on their mortgage.

Many future Boston area homebuyers say they have delayed buying a home in order to work on their credit

No one likes walking into a lender’s office, whether buying a home or refinancing their current mortgage, and not knowing the state of their credit. The Experian survey shows when people interact with their credit by tracking it and learning more about the factors affecting it, they feel more confident about their buying power.

Experian’s survey results show the effect that knowledge of credit can make in the homebuying or refinancing process.

More Boston Area Homebuyers Know Their Credit Score

According to the survey, 70 percent of Boston area homebuyers who know their credit (FICO) scores feel significantly more prepared to buy a home versus the 54 percent of those who do not know their credit scores. About 62 percent of Boston area homebuyers know that their credit scores could mean the difference in the interest rate they’ll qualify for when buying or refinancing their home.

The survey also indicated that future buyers are sometimes uncertain about the homebuying process. They are usually anxious about good interest rates, with 41 percent concerned their credit score will cause them to not qualify for the best rate available. Of the respondents that expressed concern about their credit score hurting their ability to buy a home, 27 percent do not even know their credit score. Of those who don’t know their credit score, 48 percent are concerned that their score could hurt their ability to become Boston area homebuyers.

Actively working to improve their credit score has become a priority for 58 percent of future Boston area homebuyers so they can qualify for a better home loan interest rate. Of those who are making an effort to improve their credit score, 55 percent are paying off debt, 54 percent are paying bills on time, 28 percent are keeping credit card balances low, 20 percent are protecting credit card information from fraud/identity theft, and 16 percent are not applying for or opening new credit card accounts.

Seventy-four percent of recent Boston area homebuyers indicated they understood the impact a poor credit score can have on getting a good interest rate, but 61 percent know the potential effects of identity fraud on the financing process. Sixty-two percent of future Boston area homebuyers are confident about their credit status, and 60 percent feel financially prepared to buy a home.

Find more articles pertaining to credit scores and getting the best mortgage under our Boston Mortgage Info to your right just below our Boston Real Estate Categories.

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Biggest Mistakes Boston Area Homebuyers Make

Nearly one-third of all Boston area homebuyers, and 68 percent of first-time buyers, were 34 or younger last year. Those numbers are expected to grow as millennials now represent the largest share of buyers. But many millennials are making some pretty costly mistakes according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors. Here are three common and potentially costly mistakes to avoid no matter which age group you fit into.

First Mistake Boston Area Homebuyers Make

Many Boston area homebuyers are making these same three mistakes

Overestimating what you can afford. First-time Boston area homebuyers often focus on the down payment and monthly mortgage amount when calculating how much they can afford and forget to factor in closing and other costs. They often times get to the closing and are shocked by the amount of money they have to pay.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know how much a lender is willing to lend before you make an offer on a home. But keep in mind the amount you’re pre-approved to borrow from a mortgage lender may be more than you can actually afford once you factor in taxes, insurance and other costs like condo or homeowners’ association fees and maintenance.

Your total monthly payment (including mortgage principal, interest, real estate taxes and homeowners insurance) shouldn’t exceed 28 percent of your gross, or pretax, income.

Boston Area Homebuyers Need to Remove Emotions

Boston area homebuyers need to remember to buy with their head and not with their heart. Get too emotionally attached and it can set you up to spend more than you can afford. Make sure to prioritize what you want in your home. Make a list of the most important features, whether you want a certain school district, updated bathrooms, a backyard, etc. Then figure out what you aren’t willing to do without. You won’t find the perfect home that meets your entire list so narrowing it down to what matters most can help you through your search process.

Boston Area Homebuyers Need to Plan

Once you’ve narrowed your search and you’re ready to make on offer, check with your agent about the current demand for the home you’re considering. Is the home getting multiple offers? Has it been on the market a long time? Will it require a lot of upgrades?

Make sure you get a thorough inspection. Boston area homebuyers often don’t get an inspector with expertise to check the pipes, the plumbing, or air conditioning. You want someone who knows what they are doing.

Remember to think about resale opportunities. Just because you don’t have children, the next family who comes along looking at your home for sale might, and where the home is located in relation to good schools may be the difference in whether they buy your house or not.

We have more tips for Boston area homebuyers under our Boston Home Buying Tips section just below our Boston Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

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