Homeownership is a crucial component of building wealth, as seen in recent research, but it means different things for different age groups.
For example, seniors who are in the best financial situation to handle expenses after retirement are homeowners who have no remaining mortgage—they have the value of their home as a cushion in their household wealth, and they spend less on housing than seniors who rent.
Although owning a home can benefit consumers of all ages, specific homeownership strategies should differ based on your stage of life.
Here’s a summary of guidelines for approaching homeownership applied to today’s biggest generations.
Understand the advantages of owning a home. Save for your down payment. Work on your credit score. See what you can afford to buy. Seek the advice of a local REALTOR® to advise on local demand and supply to ensure you can get a home that fits your needs at an appropriate market price. Time is on your side.
Forecasts for the economy and housing are positive, but even if there are down years in the future, your investment should outpace inflation and help you build wealth—in addition to enjoying your own home while avoiding ever-escalating rents.
To benefit most from the compounding gains of homeownership, it is best to start sooner rather than later, assuming you can afford to buy today and qualify for a mortgage.
If you were a victim of the foreclosure crisis, work on your game plan for re-entering the property ladder. You also still have time to reap the longer-term benefits—plus you are approaching your peak earning years such that shorter-term mortgages like a 15-year or 20-year loan would work. Shorter-term mortgages would enable you to retire while owning your home free and clear.
Think about your plans for retirement and if that aligns with the remaining term on any mortgages you hold. You may also be considering retirement homes and second homes. Buying sooner rather than later will help you lock in today’s lower prices and mortgage rates while enabling you to enjoy your dream home sooner.
Jonathan Smoke is realtor.com®’s chief economist.