DATA: How to Actually Afford to Buy a Home in the U.S.


Home buying hurdles exist — but research, creativity and flexibility will help you clear them (From Zillow Blog).

Home buyers today face tough challenges — housing prices have soared, a dollar doesn’t go as far as it once did and rent is more expensive than the past. 
How are people today making such a large purchase despite these hurdles? With more flexibility and a bit of financing creativity, today’s buyers are finding ways to achieve homeownership.

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Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash 

 Know your options (and credit score)

The first step to knowing if you can afford a home is figuring out what financing options are available to you, including what mortgages you’re eligible for and how much you need (and can afford) to put down upfront.

Learning the minimum FICO score required by lenders and understanding your own credit score are important starting points.

Many home shoppers aren’t sure how much they have to put down on a home, what the lender-required minimum down payment will be (it’s not always 20%), or what programs are available to help with down payments, like FHA loans.

Before buyers even start thinking about saving for a home, they should know what their financial resources are and if they’re eligible to buy.

Make enough money to save

 With fewer resources to pull from than their older, wealthier counterparts, renters wanting to buy face tough financial headwinds.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019, renter households typically earn a median income of $37,500 annually, which is nearly $40,000 less than the median household income netted by households who recently bought a home (of whom the median household income is $75,000 annually).

While there are ways to enter into homeownership without making $75,000 in household income, it’s hard to afford to buy if you make significantly less. “If you’re making $37,500 per year, it’s probably not feasible for you to buy in almost any market,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

While households purchasing homes are more likely to have two incomes than renter households (and thus a higher median household income combined), even two-income households struggle to afford to buy in competitive markets.

Save enough cash (but not as much as you think)

 One of the most daunting parts of home buying? The down payment. In fact, two-thirds of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home, according to the Zillow Housing Aspirations Report.

For people buying the national median home valued at $229,000, with the traditional 20% down payment, that’s $45,800 upfront — just to move in.

“The down payment remains a hurdle for a lot of people,” says Gudell. “But they should know they don’t have to put 20% down.”

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Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash

Although putting down less than 20% means additional considerations, such as the cost for private mortgage insurance (PMI), some find it worth the hassle. In fact, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019, only one-fifth of recent buyers (20%) put 20% down, and just over half of buyers (56%) put less than the traditional 20% down.

Buyers are also getting creative about piecing together a down payment from multiple sources. According to the report findings, 34% of buyers who get a mortgage also get help in the form of gifts or loans from friends and family to come up with a down payment. 

Know your deal breakers, but be flexible

coregroupsign111 (2)To get into a home — even if it’s not the home of their dreams — some of today’s buyers are considering homes and locations outside of their initial wish list and getting increasingly flexible when it comes to neighborhood, house condition and even home type.

“I do think people get discouraged when they look in their target neighborhood and they see homes around $170,000 when they’re looking for a $110,000 home,” Gudell says.

Affordably priced homes do, in fact, exist. But in popular areas, where people most often want to live, it’s going to be harder to find that cheaper home, Gudell says.

“If you’re willing to take a longer commute and make a couple trade-offs, you might be able to find a home that is farther out that might be cheaper,” Gudell explains. “You have to leave the paved path before you can find cheaper choices.”


NEW DECADE, NEW BUYERS: A flood of first-time homebuyers to hit the market, according to research


New Decade Means New Homebuyers. (From

A flood of first-time homebuyers is about to hit the market over the next three years, according to newly released analysis from TransUnion. TransUnion is currently projecting that at least 8.3 million first-time homebuyers will enter the mortgage market between 2020 and 2022.

That figure is more than any three-year period in the last decade, according to TransUnion’s report.  

On top of that, if economic growth exceeds expectations, the number of looming first-time homebuyers in the next three years could reach as high as 9.2 million.

“While we’ve recently seen a boom in refi activity, actual homeownership rates are down. Challenges have included high home prices, sluggish wage growth and limited housing inventory,” said Joe Mellman, senior vice president and mortgage business leader at TransUnion.

“But we may be starting to see daylight as slowing home price appreciation, low unemployment, increased wage growth and low interest rates are helping affordability,” Mellman added. “As a result, we are optimistic that first-time homebuyers will contribute more to home ownership than at any time since the start of the Great Recession.”

Another TransUnion report from earlier this year painted a similarly flattering picture of the housing market.

That report showed that the number of Gen Z consumers, categorized as those born in 1995 and after, who took out a mortgage more than doubled in the last year.

That report also showed that the number of Gen Z consumers who were credit eligible (meaning they were 18 years or older) increased by 4.5 million in the last year, climbing to 31.5 million in the second quarter 2019.

Additionally, the report showed that over the next three years, another 13 million Gen Z consumers are expected to become credit eligible.

To get more insight into prospective first-time homebuyers’ mindsets, TransUnion surveyed 943 U.S. residents who have never owned a home and expressed interest in buying one in the next three years.

Of the 943 surveyed, 45% said they were seeking more privacy when buying a home, and 44% said building equity/wealth was important when seeking out a home.

white concrete building

Getting married was why 24% said they wanted to purchase a home, while 23% said expanding their family is why they are buying.

“Only 10% of respondents said being tied down to one location would be a reason to delay home purchase. Just like others before them, the younger generation seem to place value in home ownership,” Mellman continued.

But, there are some who aren’t buying at all, just yet.

Delaying home purchase due to not having enough money for a down payment is why 58% said they are delaying their homebuying, and 51% said they said they thought they would need between 10 and 20% for a downpayment, which is why they are delaying buying a home.

“There has been a lot of discussion in the marketplace that younger people today may not be as interested as prior generations in buying a home and being tied down to one location. Our survey results suggest that is not the case at all,” Mellman said. “Rather, younger people may have in fact been deterred from home purchase by challenges they faced in the financially difficult times of the last decade.”



3 Reasons to Invest in Real Estate, According to a Financial Planner Who Owns 10 Rental Properties

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FROM BUSINESS INSIDER: Making money in Real Estate isn’t for everyone. It takes grit, time, and most importantly, cash. 
According to Brent Sutherland, a certified financial planner, real-estate investing is a decidedly “non-traditional” method for building wealth, but a powerful one nonetheless, he wrote in an article published on

When he was 35, Sutherland bought his first single-family home to rent out for income. Now, less than five years later, he owns eight additional properties, plus part of a commercial real-estate project that involves four apartments, a garage, and 10 mobile homes.

After becoming a real-estate investor himself, Sutherland left traditional financial advising to coach clients on his own.  The reason why, he says, is that the way advisers are paid, trained, and regulated generally inhibits them from recommending a non-licensed product like physical real estate to clients. Here’s why Sutherland believes real-estate investing is a valuable tool for building wealth:

1. Real estate diversifies your income

It’s a common habit among financially successful people to develop and maintain multiple income streams.

“While it is certainly important to be properly diversified with your investments, it is even more important to be diversified with your income,” Sutherland writes. “This is because the largest financial risk for most of you is the loss of your primary source of income, which is typically in the form of a day job.”
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Setting up and managing a rental property can open up a stream of steady income that doesn’t require the time commitment of a full-time job.

“If you continue to expand your income streams, you eventually reach a point where you no longer need to rely on a day job (and someone else being in charge of your well-being). This is the point of financial freedom; the ultimate form of financial security!” Sutherland writes.

2. Real estate produces near-immediate results

When managed correctly, rental properties can produce income quickly and consistently, he says.

“You can achieve and feel the results almost immediately. Property improvements are visible and tangible. You can cash, spend, and invest rent payments. Today! Not 30 years in the future,” Sutherland writes.

“I’ve found that investing with near-immediate results usually generates energy and enthusiasm in a person that cannot be achieved through traditional means. Positive financial behaviors unearth themselves,” he writes.

3. Passive income can help you become financially independent sooner

According to experts, a person is considered financially independent when they have 25 times their annual expenses saved. With this amount, they would be able to withdraw 4% of their investments each year and live comfortably without ever running out of money, assuming they earn the average return.

With passive income from real-estate investments, Sutherland says you can halve the amount you need invested to become financially independent.

He explains: “If you need $40,000 a year to live, you could alternatively invest in assets that generate an 8% cash-on-cash return. This is a very reasonable assumption. And it means you would only need to save a total of $500,000 (instead of $1 million). Yet, your investments would still meet your annual household living needs.”

While returns, taxes, and inflation can, of course, affect your timeline, he says, cash-flowing real-estate is a clear asset.

Written by Tanza Loudenback For Business Insider

LARCHMONT FAMILY FAIR is coming to the Boulevard this Sunday

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the 53rd annual Larchmont Family Fair will take place this Sunday, Oct. 27 from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Larchmont Boulevard between Beverly Boulevard and First Street. Some of the activities featured at the event include  A pie-baking contest, children’s costume parade and contest, all-ages talent show and rides.

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On stage

While there will be rides and food aplenty throughout the day, fair-goers should keep an eye on the main stage for some of the attractions spotlighted during the afternoon. A dance performance begins at noon, with the children’s costume contest at 1 p.m., no signup required. A Bob Baker Marionette puppet show will make its Fair debut at 2 p.m. The winning contestants for “Larchmont’s Got Talent” will perform beginning at 2:30 p.m

Second annual pie-baking contest

A pie-baking contest organized by Anne Loveland, Janet Loveland and Sue Carr will be judged by local residents Daphne Brogdon and Mark Peel, co-owners of Prawn restaurants, and Daryl Twerdahl of St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. Contestants are to drop their pies off at the Loveland-Carr booth by noon.

For more information, visit
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The Hidden Housing Problem: There Just Aren’t Enough Houses on the Market


Housing inventory falls to new lows. 

FROM HOUSINGWIRE.COM: For all the talk about how this year will be a great on for the mortgage business, there’s a problem underlying all that good news – There are simply not enough houses on the market to keep up with demand.

A new report from Zillow shows that for-sale inventory continued to fall in September after a mild recovery earlier this year.

According to the Zillow report, there were 102,112 fewer homes on the market in the U.S. in September than there were last year during the same month, a 6.4% drop.

coregroupsign111 (2)As Zillow notes, inventory grew year over year between September 2018 and February 2019, likely due to decreasing demand after a period of rapid price growth. That reversed a stretch of 44 consecutive months of inventory declines, stretching back to January 2015.

But that growth was eliminated during the spring and summer homebuying season, leaving home inventory at its lowest level since at least 2013, according to Zillow’s review of available data.

There are several contributing factors, Zillow noted, including a lack of new listings at the beginning of the home shopping season.

According to Zillow, new monthly listings were 8.4% lower than the previous year in April and 10.6% lower in May, which contributed to the current shortage.

Beyond that, recent data suggests that purchase mortgage demand is up in conjunction with refinance demand, thanks to the low mortgage rates of the last several months.

The impact is being felt more significantly by would-be first-time homebuyers.

According to Zillow, the inventory buildup and subsequent reversal was “especially severe” among the bottom tier of homes, which are often targeted by first-time and low-income buyers. 

Zillow’s report shows that inventory growth among this group of homes reached 6.7% in October 2018, but fell 10.3% annually in September 2019.

The number of homes built in September was lower too, 9.4% less than August’s rate, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Commerce. leslie-jones-1415633-unsplash

“One constraint on the completion of new housing units is the availability of construction labor. However, this constraint may be easing as residential construction jobs increased 4.1 percent between September 2018 and September 2019,” First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming said. “More people at work in residential construction signals that housing construction is likely to increase in the months ahead, reinforcing reports that builder confidence increased to its highest level in nearly two years in October, even in the face of cost challenges.”

Home value growth also slowed down for its ninth consecutive month, dipping to 4.8% year over year, the lowest it has seen since April 2013. The annualized rate of quarterly growth did the opposite, rising to 4.3%. This may be a sign of a turning point after the market saw a decent cooling down period.’s senior economist, George Ratiu, said that September inventory trends, especially in the mid-market, may foreshadow whether or not the housing market is headed towards even lower supply levels in early 2020.

Zillow Director of Economic Research Skylar Olsen tried to paint a rosy picture of the current market.

“Housing appears to have renewed its place as a bright spot contributing to continued U.S. economic growth. The return of accelerating quarterly price growth, rising sales numbers and increasing home builder confidence and activity all point to closing out 2019 on a healthy note, despite greater volatility over the course of this year,” Olsen said.

But the reality, as Zillow itself said, is that the market needs more homes to go up for sale, whether they are new builds or existing homes, to be truly healthy and stable.



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