With mortgage rates remaining near historic lows, many financial experts are making the case that student-loan debt doesn’t have to hold back millennials from buying a home. But the message isn’t getting across: Nearly 70 percent of millennials say they are delaying a real estate purchase because of their student debt load, according to a new survey by CommonBond.
Forbes.com recently highlighted whether a person with student-loan debt was ready to become a home owner with the following assessment:
- Debt-to-income ratio isn’t everything. Yes, the proportion of your income that goes toward paying your debt is a central determinant of whether you’re ready to buy a home. Most lenders require a debt-to-income ratio of 36 percent or less to qualify for a mortgage. But a buyer with student-loan debt shouldn’t worry that their number will automatically disqualify them. The key is that they pay their bills on time and still have enough income left over to compensate for their debt.
- You can still handle more debt. Life is all about balance. Take a serious look at your monthly budget/income. You either need to have a large enough cushion (20% down payment) or calculate what your monthly expenses would be to own a home. If the cost of owning is around the same as renting (all included), then you should be adjusting and preparing to purchase. The best interest rates tend to go to those who can offer a 20 percent down payment, but loans are available that require as little as 3 percent down on a home.
- Make a budget. To save for the down payment, would-be buyers need a budget in place. Katie Brewer, a certified financial planner in Dallas, suggests budgeting with broad buckets: fixed expenses, variable expenses, and longer-term goals (e.g. paying down debt, buying a home, or saving for retirement). Brewer recommends keeping fixed expenses to 50 percent or less of your overall budget. There’s no one budget style that is more effective, however. The important part is to just pick a method and then start working toward the goal — saving for a down payment, in this case. With the Boston rental market being as aggressive as it is… It may be a great idea to downsize for a bit so you can save. Get Roommates, Eat out less, Decrease leisure spending. You have to tweak your “budget” to what makes logical and financial sense to you. I am a firm believer in those who want something bad enough…will do everything in their power to make it happen. The question then becomes: HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?