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Op-Ed: Before Buying a House, Millennials Should Do Their Homework

By Joe Moshé

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit two years ago, increased demand and shrinking inventories have caused home prices to skyrocket on Long Island. According to data from OneKey® MLS, the median home price in December 2021 was $595,000, an increase of 8.2% over the previous December. During that same time frame, inventory shrank by 34.5%, leaving only 8,755 homes available for sale. In response to this, many Millennials are rushing to make these big-ticket purchases and quickly scooping up whatever is still remaining on the market, at any cost.

Soon after they move in, they decide to make some major renovations to the house, or they have to make repairs because they didn’t take the time to hire a home inspector who would have been able to find structural damage, faulty wiring, termites, rodents and other unforeseen problems.

Before buying a house, Millennials should meet with a Real Estate Professional who can walk them through every aspect of the homebuying process. This includes how to shop for a mortgage and which down payment assistance programs are available. They should also look for the services of a qualified, experienced Real Estate attorney and shop for title insurance, which can help prospective homebuyers find title insurance at cost. But the best way Millennials can make the homebuying experience easier for themselves is to get preapproved for a mortgage. That way, they can see how much house they can afford and how much they can afford to borrow. Additionally, most Sellers will not entertain offers from Buyers who are not fully vetted to ensure that they make it to the closing table.

Already saddled with student loan debt, Millennial homeowners are taking out loans to make renovations or repairs. Before they know it, they have gotten themselves into a financial hole that they have no idea how to get out of it. What they may not know is that they can often pay off their debts by borrowing against the value of their homes using a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

A recent survey from Hometap found that 83% of Millennial homeowners carry some form of debt, compared to 72% of Baby Boomers. The survey also found that the younger group of homeowners spend more of their monthly incomes on homeownership costs, yet, of all generational groups, they are the least knowledgeable on how much equity they have in their homes.

The two components that make HELOCs attractive right now are low interest rates and high home prices. According to Bankrate, the average HELOC rate is sitting at 4.27%. While it may be higher than the average mortgage rate, taking out money against their home is a less expensive alternative to using high-interest credit cards, personal loans and fixed home equity loans to pay off their debt. Another advantage is that they can take out as much, or as little, cash as they need, whereas, with a home equity loan, they would have to take out a lump sum.

Another study, this one from CoreLogic, found that homeowners with mortgages collectively amassed $3.2 trillion in home equity between July and September 2021. That means each homeowner gained an average of $56,700 of equity in their homes. In other words, the money is right there in the house, just waiting to be used to pay off debts that have accumulated over the years.

A house is not just a place to live in; it’s an investment. It is important for younger homeowners to stay up-to-date on their home’s value and how much money they can borrow against their homes. If there is a time for them to get the money they need, that time is now.

Joe Moshé is the Broker and Owner of Charles Rutenberg Realty, Inc., a real estate firm based in Plainview, New York with branch offices in Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, Bronx and Westchester Counties. He is also Principal of Revolution Abstract, which helps prospective homebuyers find title insurance at cost. For more information, visit www.crrli.com or www.revolutionabstract.com.

Charles Rutenberg Realty

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