How to Own a Home Right after College
Updated: May 13
Owning a home right after college can be a daunting, scary, and seemingly impossible task. However, with proper discipline and an understanding of the process it can be done.
*Note I don’t want to get your hopes too high. It is going to depend on where you are going - in our local NC market it is a lot easier. In NYC the “standard” downpayment is 20% and the median price of all one bedrooms in Manhattan is $916,000. So, unless you are exiting college as a 22 year old with $183,200 in your pocket, renting might be the best option :)
The Power of Homeownership (Renting V. Owning)
Homeownership is one of the largest accomplishments anyone can have on their bucket list. But, coming fresh out of college it is not on the minds of many because they don’t understand the benefits of owning a home and they don’t understand the difference between owning and renting.
When to Rent instead of Own.
The biggest difference between renting and owning is that you do not build any equity from paying your rent because you don’t own anything. You are simply paying someone else’s mortgage. Unfortunately, like our NYC example, owning a home is going to take quite some time to save up for that downpayment. So that is a great example of when you should rent. Understanding and researching the housing markets of where you are planning to move is going to be a vital first step in understanding the feasibility of owning after college.
Perks of Homeownership.
Instead of putting money towards rent, you could put your money towards building equity, credit, stability, and even in some cases having lower payments then rent would be. Owning a home you can put your “rent payment” towards owning something of your own. Over time homes appreciate and gain value, so when you purchase a home for $150,000 and overtime it appreciates to $200,000 you have made $50,000 just by living.
Determine your W’s.
Decide what it is that you are looking to purchase. Depending on where you are looking to purchase and what type of property it is your monthly payment will look really different. Most condominium and townhome associations come with Home Owner’s associations and those come with dues. These dues can be more costly than you expect so keep that in mind for if you really need the condo with all of the amenities or if you are going to pay for a gym membership on the side, for example.
Your location is very important. This is where you are going to have to do a lot of planning because sometimes you won’t even know what state you are going to be living in until it is the last second. Once you find out where it is that you are planning to live start to search the MLS (gain access for Triad MLS here) to find neighborhoods and subdivisions that fit your budget, commute, and other criteria.
What are your criteria you are looking for. There has to be a reason for purchasing the one place that you did. Was it the backyard, the short commute, the gym and business center off of the main lobby? No matter what it is make sure that you have a variety of different criteria that make you want to purchase. Honestly, at this time in your life your criteria might just be that it fits within the budget - sometimes that is a good enough reason. Start Small.
You can buy a large home later down the road. If you are getting your feet under you and want to purchase real estate right after college, chances are you understand the power of living under your means and saving. Buying the most expensive home possible based off of your estimated salary is not going to be the best idea. Set a comfortable amount for your monthly payment and when the time comes to move you will be ready with more cash in your pocket.
Build Your Network.
Find an Agent
Remember, when an agent works with a buyer, in typical circumstances the seller pays their commission, meaning you get their services for free. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t use one. The amount of things an agent can help you with is endless. Most importantly they can just talk about what to expect from owning a home right out of the gate and if you think it is right for you - because as I will talk about in the rent vs owning section, there are times when you actually should just rent.
Find a Lender
The agent you find will be able to point you in the right direction to the best lenders. They will have all the information you need on the financial side of ownership. Just a quick conversation with a lender can point you in the right direction towards the feasibility of owning a home. Here you can even discuss possible monthly payment, amount of a downpayment and really grasp an idea as to how affordable home ownership can be. They will also be able to discuss whether you are eligible for a loan or not as there are processes for first time home buyers and new employees in comparison to our seasoned vets. If you are interested go and search for a mortgage calculator and just get a rough estimate of what a monthly payment would look like.
Being Financially Smart
Save as much as you can.
Remember if you are looking to purchase a downpayment is going to be an aspect you are going to have to factor in. It might not be the $183,200 like it is in Manhattan, but in our local market the average home price is $230,000 so 5% would be $11,500 and 10% would be $23,000. Especially once you compare to what price of condo, townhome, or house you are looking for this is where you can start to see it being doable.
Get rid of debt.
Your lender will advise you best as to how much mortgage you can get with your credit score, but no matter what you are going to want as little debt as possible. That’s always a good practice. Tackling debt that you have created over the years and a mortgage can be overwhelming, so just start while you can.
Owning a home right after college can seem like an impossible feat, but if you start early it is more than possible. Determine your W’s, building your network, and be financially smart. Doing these three things can catapult you ahead of others and really make a difference in your life down the road.
*remember I am just a real estate agent, all the numbers and figures I mention are just for an example. Be smart with your money and talk to a lender & financial advisor.
Founder & CEO, SPEEK