AMERICAN DREAM MIND SHIFT

A recent Bank of the West survey determined that approximately 98 percent of adults want to own a home. It’s the American dream, and we love the idea of having our little slice of the world to call our own. The challenge, of course, is preparation — producing the required funds, financial planning and selecting a REALTOR® that will be there every step of the way.

Many first-time buyers carry student loan debt and pay steep monthly rental rates while facing long work hours to build their careers. This juggling act can seem insurmountable, without adding in the expenses for a down payment, home inspection, appraisal and moving a household. Some buyers are putting a home purchase on hold or looking for shortcuts.

Unfortunately, one out of three millennial homeowners have chosen to finance their purchase by withdrawing money from or taking loans against their retirement accounts. We don’t recommend this choice, as it creates financial setbacks and repayment could be required within two months of a job loss, which is not ideal.

One terrific shortcut that can make great sense is purchasing a home that could provide income. Having roommates share the cost of the home can provide a significant cushion, particularly if the home needs some work and will have extra expenses for the first few years.

Not everyone wants to share their kitchen or social spaces, but there are other options such as homes with an in-law style space that has a small kitchen, private bath and living areas. This space could be rented out on an annual basis with utilities pro-rated, or possibly as a short-term rental if zoning allows. 

Other shortcuts: research down payment grants or loans programs and see what you qualify for; create a financial plan and timeline for accomplishing your home buying goal. You may need to tighten your budget and set aside funds each month toward your home purchase; amend your first home size, budget, and features; purchase a fixer home and set a plan and budget for improving the home; make sure you include property taxes, insurance and home maintenance/repair in your monthly housing budget.

The American dream is alive and well, but careful planning and considering the future is key to being happy with your decision after the closing. Talk about these topics with your REALTOR® before you start looking for a home or decide on a lender. And just say no to tapping into your retirement fund!