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67% of millennials who want to own a home have $0 saved for a down payment

By James Battiston

June 16, 2023

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When it comes to homeownership, the generational divide speaks volumes.

67% of millennials who want to own a home have $0 saved for a down payment — and 42% are worried about bad credit. Here's how to overcome these big obstacles:

Take control while you're young.

When it comes to homeownership, the generational divide speaks volumes.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, as of the first quarter of 2023, about 70.1% of 45 to 54-year-olds own a home, compared to only 62.6% of people aged 35 to 44 years.

If that’s surprising, a survey of millennials by Apartment List shows that a growing number who are renters have given up on homeownership (24.7%), with 74% of that group saying they expect to never be able to afford a home.

Not having a downpayment and bad credit are major stumbling blocks. About 67% of millennial renters who one day plan to buy a home reported having no savings for a down payment, while 42% cited bad credit as one of their biggest holdbacks.

If you worry about your credit score or that you don’t have enough money saved, here are some strategies to help you make homeownership a reality

Create a budget and savings plan

Millennials are willing to stretch their budgets in order to buy a home, with 46% expecting to max it out completely, according to research by Real Estate Witch. Of course, you need to have a budget in the first place before you can push it.

A survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Wells Fargo shows that only 30% of people have a detailed plan of what to do with each paycheck. Additionally, only 27% have a strategy to pay down their debt.

Laying out your monthly income and expenses lets you create clear savings objectives. You’re better able to analyze your spending habits and manage your finances. It’s an easy way to figure out how much you want to save each month to afford a home and adjust your

Improve your credit score

Credit scores are meant to measure how good you are at managing debt. It’s a number between 300-850, and the higher your score, the better you supposedly are at handling the money you owe. You’ll also often get a better mortgage rate from lenders if your score is higher.

Generally, you need a score of 620 to qualify for a mortgage, although there are some that are offered if your score is lower.

According to Experian, the average score for millennials was 687 in 2022.

That’s not bad, but when you’re concerned about your ability to make a downpayment and keep up payments in general, you want the best mortgage rate possible.

The greatest factor contributing to your credit score is your payment history — making up about 35% of the total.

The best way to maintain a healthy payment history is to use your credit card, but keep your balances low and pay off any debts you have on time. This demonstrates that you take debt seriously and always manage to pay off any you’ve got.

Having a mixture of loans is also recommended to show how you can manage debt. For instance, student and car loans combined with credit card debt show how you manage multiple payments.

Having a longer credit history also looks good in the eyes of lenders and can improve your credit score. Keeping a single credit card, but having it for a long time, is better than having multiple cards. This is because it shows you’ve learned to manage your debt and have a proven track record of paying things off.

Consider alternative down payment options

Looking to alternative down payment options can help make this process easier on you — and your wallet.

For instance, a Federal Housing Administration loan requires only a downpayment of 3.5% for home buyers.

If you’re looking to move to a rural area, you might qualify for a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan that doesn’t require a downpayment at all.

Similarly, a loan through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t need a downpayment — though this might be a requirement in some cases.

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