Millennials plan to skip manicures, movies to save for a home


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Manicures, the new Marvel movie and other recreational spending are a few things millennials are willing to forfeit in order to become homeowners, a new survey by Chase shows.

The survey, Readying to Buy: First-Time Homebuyers Share Motivation & Willingness to Purchase, gauged how driven millennials are to own a home. Some 1,000 people, aged 22 to 38, responded to the national survey, which showed that 70 percent of would-be first-time homebuyers will cut spending on spa days, shopping and going to the movies in exchange for purchasing a home within the next year.

Women were more likely than men to tighten their belts when it came to restaurant spending, with 71 percent of women stating they would cut back on eating out to once per week compared with 64 percent of men.

Millennials now make up the largest group of homebuyers as their parents (the baby boomers) downsize and retire. But, according to the Urban Institute, the homeownership rate among millennials ages 25 to 34 is some 8 percentage points lower than that of previous generations (Gen X and baby boomers) in the same age group.

Millennials willing to sacrifice for a home

Sacrificing luxuries, even small ones like a movie ticket, to save up for a down payment is something people have to consider as home prices continue to rise — albeit more slowly — outpacing recent wage growth. Although there are low down payment mortgage options, those loans usually come with private mortgage insurance, or PMI, requirements when the down payment is less than 20 percent of the sales price.

PMI can cost between 0.5 to 1 percent of the total loan amount on an annual basis. For a $250,000 mortgage with a PMI of 1 percent, homeowners will pay $2,500 per year, which is about $208 per month.

However, saving that much can be challenging for many young buyers who are also juggling debt and dealing with stagnant wages. To make sure homeownership is affordable and sustainable, consider buying below your means, says Taylor Kovar, CEO at Kovar Capital.

“I have found that most millennials are jumping into huge debt by purchasing houses like the ones they grew up in — ones that it took their parents 20 years or more of work to afford,” Kovar says. “I always tell homebuyers that they need to focus on a few small non-negotiables when looking for a first house but to not go crazy thinking they need all of the square footage that their parents have.”

Despite the high cost of housing in many areas across the country, 93 percent of respondents said they were excited about buying a house, but only 52 percent said they were financially ready.

For would-be homebuyers who are unsure of how homeownership fits into their finances, experts recommend working out a budget.

Consider costs like property insurance, repairs, HOA fees and taxes when you crunch the numbers. Also, don’t rely on the bank to tell you how much you can afford. Just because you qualify for a certain amount, doesn’t mean you should get a mortgage for the full amount, Kovar says.

It’s better to leave room in your housing budget in case emergencies arise. There’s always time to upsize later as your income grows.

[READ: Tricky ways real estate agents get you to spend more money]

Consider your needs, make a budget and buy wisely

Begin the homebuying process by getting preapproved for a loan, that will help you determine how much you’re eligible for. If you don’t qualify for the amount you hoped for, you can wait until you improve your credit score or income to apply for a mortgage that makes more sense for your needs.

“With higher levels of debt compared to other cohorts, millennials need to be extra sure that the home mortgage payment they are taking on fits in with their budget,” says John Graff, broker at Ashby & Graff Real Estate in Los Angeles. “Obtaining a full loan preapproval (as opposed to a more simplistic pre-qualification) should be a top priority for millennial home buyers so they can get an idea of exactly what they can comfortably afford.”

Before you enter into decades of mortgage payments, assess your needs and make sure what you buy can meet them. If this is a starter home, then you might want to identify features that have high resale values, like places in trendy neighborhoods, says Susan Abrams, a broker at Warburg Realty.

She recommends that buyers choose an experienced broker who is knowledgeable about the neighborhood. These are assets that can make a huge difference in the buying process.

“Millennial buyers should do their homework and research price appreciation year-over-year in areas they are considering,” Abrams says.

Another factor buyers should consider is how long they will stay in one place. If there’s a good chance you’ll move in a year or two, renting is likely the better option. The reason for this is that buying and selling costs are so expensive that you’ll likely lose money if you don’t wait for the value to appreciate enough to exceed those expenses. That usually takes five to seven years.

“Millennials should be particularly mindful of how long they intend to stay in a particular area before plunking down the time, effort, and money on buying a home,” Graff says. “Real estate is best as a long-term investment. If you can’t realistically commit to staying in home for at least a few years then it might not be the best buy.”

While premium locations cost more, they might be worth the extra money — especially if you want to resell the house in the next few years, says Josh Rubin, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman in New York.

One way to afford the pricier zip code is to buy a smaller house in a neighborhood with good schools, better transit and close to sought-after features (like shopping, parks and restaurants) rather than getting a bigger house in a less-desirable location.

“Buyers should focus on location first. The adjacent area can seem alluring with its lower prices, but consider proximity to transit, neighborhood amenities and good quality schools when considering whether the home you’re considering buying is truly a good match,” Rubin says. “Some might think that these don’t matter because it doesn’t affect them. While that may be true, you want the house to be marketable to prospective buyers when you’re selling.”

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