Even for Those Who Never Dreamed, Owning a Home is Possible
Owning a home is possible. The truth is that dreams can come true. Even as the worst real estate market since the 1930s casts a lingering shadow on the economy, home ownership is still the dream of the vast majority of Americans. Some 90 percent of those ages 18 to 34 who now rent would like to own a home someday, according to a Harris Interactive poll conducted for real estate information company Trulia Inc. And thanks to current circumstances, many of them can.
The cost to own a home is down remarkably from what it was just five or six years ago – both the price of a home itself and the cost of borrowing the money to buy it. If you have decent credit today and rent an apartment, you can often buy a place of your own for the same monthly outlay.
That means many good things, practical things – bedrooms for your kids, a garage for your car, a yard for swings and a barbecue, privacy, the pride of ownership. It means a treasure house of family experiences; a wealth of new discoveries and lasting memories; a place where you make the rules, not the landlord; a piece of the Earth with your name on it.
Why now? Why is 2012 so different from 2005 or 2007, when housing and the economy were booming? Because markets correct themselves, and the housing markets back then had gotten too expensive for many people – even those who were buying houses at the time.
Banks were hawking mortgages like hot dog vendors at a baseball game. The “wisdom” from the real estate industry was to “buy as much house as you can afford” – even if you couldn’t really afford it. A bubble blew up big and then burst – and the markets today are making amends. You can take them up on it. The headlines tell the story. As this article is being written, major news organizations are reporting that mortgage rates have fallen to or matched previous weeks’ record lows for 11 of the past 12 weeks.
House prices continue to be soft in most parts of the country, and as the cost of existing homes has fallen, builders of new homes have had to adjust their prices as well. The result is an overstock of high-quality housing that is competing for buyers, and thus offering great value to those who step up to purchase. Still, some shy away because they’ve heard it’s difficult to qualify for a mortgage. And yes, it is harder than five years ago, but not impossible. Steady employment, a little money in the bank and decent credit go a long way on a mortgage application. For those who come up short in one area or another, programs are available to help them raise their credit score and tighten their budget.
Organizations exist across the country to educate prospective homebuyers, help them qualify and ease their way into ownership. Some, known as Community Development Financial Institutions, can even make their own loans. Their clients are welcomed by regular banks as well because they are better risks than the average, less-prepared buyer.
Homeowners are welcomed into their communities as stable and reliable neighbors. They make friends and build long-term relationships, watch each others’ houses and keep an eye on each other’s’ kids. It takes a village, the saying goes, and in America today, home ownership makes a village.If you’ve ever wanted to buy a home of your own, thought about how much it would mean to your family, dreamed about the tangible and intangible benefits that home ownership would bring, you owe it to yourself to test the water – now, while the market is in your corner.
This is an opportunity unlike any in recent memory. And there may not be a better chance in our lifetimes.
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