4.5 Mistakes Millennials Make When Buying a Home

There will be mistakes. It’s OK. Problem is, your parents made the same mistakes but their real estate increased in value faster than their mistakes cost them money. I hope this helps.

Let’s have some perspective. Houses are expensive, compact car payments are cheap, your parents live in a mansion and your university degree has qualified you for minimum wage at Starbucks. Not exactly correct for all but true for some. At least tight pants and beards are in fashion.

What is true, is that the real estate experience your parents have is not helpful to you. Times have changed. The chances of your first real estate purchase doubling shortly after purchase is near zero and in fact, it’s more likely the value of your purchase will go down in value. So, let’s avoid these mistakes.

  1. Using an inexperienced REALTOR. Use a veteran who has a high acumen for tech, returns texts fast and is a go getter. Your friend’s friend may have just gotten their license but consulting with this person, at this time in your life could be a mistake. A 1/4 to 1/2 million dollar purchase will require needs analysis and more than someone to “get you a deal” or open the door. Buying poorly can harm your finances for years. Ask yourself, it will cost me $40,000 to $50,000 to reverse this purchase or move on in the future, I am ready to spend this kind of money? In relative terms your first real estate transaction can make or break your financial future. working with an agent who “doesn’t need” the commission is one way to get honest advice. (Notice I said “inexperienced”, not young. A young agent can have plenty of experience and many older agents may have less experience).
  2. Not having a short-term plan. Ask yourself, what does my ownership look like in 2, 5 and 10 years? If you are frustrated by paying someone else’s mortgage (i.e. rent), remember it’s not you replacing the hot water tank or paying the property taxes. If, on the other hand, the home your are purchasing can see you through a dog, marriage, kids, extended family and more, perhaps it’s a good plan. My experience tells me the 5th year of ownership is usually long enough to “work thru” a bad market and reverse a bad buy. But, it’s better to avoid the bad buy altogether.
  3. Avoid the fixer upper. Many new real estate buyers look to the foreclosure and fixer upper market and millennials should avoid these properties. Sure, carpets, paint and cosmetic updates are fine and normal in the course of looking for value priced homes. At the same time, nothing can stress a first time buyer or young couple more than regular trips to the local hardware store purchasing widgets to complete this weeks “to do” list. Soon, all your extra cash will be sucked up by the reno that seemed doable but just never got finished. Buy someone else’s reno. Get the home inspected by a picky home inspector and move in and enjoy.
  4. Don’t buy a condo.  Yup, I said it. Don’t. Well, I know it’s in your budget but avoid a condo unless it has the following: 1) It can be rented without restrictions, 2) The building is newer and has a low potential for a special assessment, 3) It’s concrete construction, 4) It’s “all of the above” and is a 10 minute walk to downtown shopping and services. Purchasing new construction is also a good idea for millennials but make sure you have your agent go over the paperwork. The sales people in the show home represent the developer, not you. This oversight could limit your options.

And last, item .5 is when looking for financing, don’t take a “no” from someone who can’t say “yes”. Whether it’s a bank or mortgage broker, don’t stop if you are turned down. Keep exploring financing options until you are sure you have good financing plan in place. And, don’t start viewing homes until you are 100% sure you have money in place.

I hope this helped!