For those just starting their adult lives, the idea buying a home can seem like summiting a fourteener: It’s a nice dream – but there’s a lot of rocky terrain to traverse first.
Buying a home in your 20s is not easy but can reap big rewards. “The typical first-time homebuyer makes their initial home purchase in their early 30s,” notes Danielle Hale, chief economist of Realtor.com. “But buying a home at an earlier age can help build up equity – the savings in your home – so that you end up with more down the road.”
Citing an Urban Institute study, Realtor.com reports that those who bought homes before age 35 accumulated the most “housing wealth” by their 60s.
For those in their 20s thinking of buying a home, Realtor.com offers this advice:
Pay attention to your credit score: Since you haven’t had much time to establish a credit history, it can be difficult to secure a loan. “If your score is on the low side,” notes Realtor.com, “ask your real estate agent for help connecting with a lender who might work with a young buyer…Or go with an unconventional, government-backed mortgage through the Federal Housing Authority, the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. All allow lower credit scores and down payments.
Save: You’ll need money for a down payment, for future mortgage payments, repairs and other unexpected expenses. For those who can’t save the traditional 20% down payment, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers programs for first-time buyers, depending on where you live.
Have a five-year plan: Consider your near-term future. If there’s a possibility of a major change in your job, relationships or lifestyle, now might not be the best time to buy a home. On the other hand, “if you’re ready and can commit to being in one location, you shouldn’t wait,” notes Hale.
Remain flexible: Sure, you’d like three bedrooms, four baths, a huge backyard and a home office, but you might not find that in your price range. “Be willing to compromise,” says Realtor.com. After all, your first home won’t likely be your last.