Millennials: Owning home can be part of wealth-building strategy

Nearly 10 years old, the implosion of the U.S. housing market created wounds that still bear scars. One of the byproducts from that period was a general decline in homeownership. Every age category below those 65 years old shows fewer people owning their homes.

Those 35 and younger have long been the least likely to own a home. The percentage of those in that age group owning homes began to fall even before the housing crisis and dipped to 34 percent in early 2017.

In the second quarter of this year, though, millennials’ homeownership rate rose to more than 35 percent, the highest in that age group since the third quarter of 2015. Whatever the reason millennials are re-entering the housing market, a self-described “self-made millionaire” thinks those who remain on the sideline and don’t buy a house are making the biggest financial mistake a millennial can make.

“If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none,” financial author David Bach said in an article on CNBC.com. “The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.”

It doesn’t take a trained statistician to point out potential flaws in that statement. But in the article, Bach emphasizes one of the fundamental points in support of homeownership: The alternative – renting – doesn’t build equity and is like flushing one’s money down the toilet every month.

“As a renter, you can easily spend half a million dollars or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing,” he writes in his book The Automatic Millionaire. “Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!”

The idea of paying down the principal on a mortgage, paired with the reliably steady increase in home values, made homeownership a can’t-lose proposition – until the market crumbled, of course.

Even though home values have generally risen for the last couple of years, turning homeownership into a successful investment requires more than throwing a down payment at any piece of property. Location remains vital, and buying a home in an area experiencing an outflow of population might not be advisable. Bend, Oregon, of course, with its steady inflow of newcomers, is the opposite of a moribund city.

Bach, the author, advises making a down payment of at least 10 percent and emphasizes that younger buyers need to acknowledge that a first home is just that – not a dream home.

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer, a veteran of homeownership or someone thinking of selling a home, I can make sure you come through the real estate process in great shape. I will bring my experience, integrity and ethics to bear in the quest of getting you an optimal outcome. Please contact me at (541) 383-1426, or visit Bend Property Search to connect with me through my website.

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