Aspiration & Struggle
Interested in Becoming a Homeowner? Here’s How One Millennial Did It
Ballooning student loans. An unexpected economic crash. Uncertain job prospects. Millennials have come of age during a time when the cards were seemingly stacked against them at every turn. Many have had to make tough life choices and are delaying marriage, retirement, and even homeownership because of these fluctuating economic conditions. Becoming a homeowner seems further and further away for Millennials struggling with high debt loads and a dubious employment situation.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey taken in the first quarter of 2014, homeownership for Millennials has reached a new low—only 36.2 percent of people under 35 own their own home.
Maybe we’re just looking at the numbers from a glass-half-empty perspective. While nearly two-thirds of Millennials are not homeowners, that means one-third are. Millennial homeowners are not quite the mythological unicorn they were once believed to be, and I was lucky enough to find and chat with one of them.
Lauren Bowling is a 28-year-old solopreneur, blogger, Millennial, and homeowner who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. I spoke with her about how she managed to buy a home and what advice she has for other Millennials thinking about becoming a homeowner.
How did you make your dream of homeownership possible?
Through lots of planning and saving. I also received a large windfall during the two years prior to my home purchase. I put that away, didn’t touch it, and used a good portion to buy the home and renovate. It isn’t a decision to be made or taken lightly.
What tips do you have for Millennials who are dealing with debt, but are interested in becoming a homeowner?
To be cautious when making a large financial commitment, such as owning a home. Don’t buy more home than you can afford with the debt payments, but also factor in insurance, taxes, and upkeep when figuring a house payment into your budget. These extras add up, and many people are blindsided by them once they get into the home.
I would at least recommend not having any credit card debt before purchasing a home, as that is very expensive debt.
Do you see homeownership as an investment? Why or why not?
Absolutely. If you do it right, and buy a home at a low price that maybe needs a little elbow grease, you can luck into getting a home with a large amount of equity that can be used down the road should you need to fund a business or finance something like a child’s education or home upgrades that pay off when you go to sell the home. Also, if you’re single, owning a home can be a great way to make extra cash on the side with roommates.
What do you wish you knew about homeownership before owning a home?
You get used to it, of course, as you do with most transitions, but I wish I’d known just how much work it is owning a home. You can’t call a landlord when something breaks, and there are many to-dos, like lawn maintenance, changing air filters, etc., that I’d just never thought of. It is rewarding, but it is work.
To learn more about Lauren and her adventures, follow her at lbeeandthemoneytree.com.