Category Archives: living well

Millennials Are Redefining Home-Buying Standards—and Gen Z Is Next

The home-buying approach varies from generation to generation—and in order to overcome down payment hurdles, millennial buyers are transforming the standards of homeownership set by baby boomers, according to the 2017 Zillow Group Report. In fact, less than half (39 percent) of millennials submit offers with the recommended 20 percent down payment. Twenty-one percent put down the minimum: 5 percent or less.

The financial challenges don’t stop at down payments. Thirty-three percent of millennial buyers report having difficulty qualifying for a loan, and 43 percent have trouble finding out what they can afford. These complications likely stem from a lack of experience, as 71 percent of millennial buyers are purchasing their first home.

“In many cities across the U.S., the housing market is extremely competitive, especially for first-time buyers who are looking to purchase a starter home,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Young buyers often start their careers in fast-growing cities in which the market is particularly tough—and they’re trying to save for a down payment while making record-high rent payments.”

Millennials, however, will look for creative ways to achieve the home-buying dream. Twenty-nine percent of millennial buyers ask friends or family for down payment help, often coming up with the full amount using various sources.

Millennials will also jump on the opportunity to claim a home. They do not shy away from multiple offer situations, and are not afraid to go over budget. More than 53 percent of first-time millennial buyers make multiple offers on the homes they want, and 37 percent don’t keep to their financial plan. This can prevent future plans to sell if market conditions don’t allow the sale of the home to cover remaining mortgage balances. The typical homeowner still owes 62 percent of their home’s value and 46 percent of millennial sellers won’t sell their home in their desired price range.

The economic landscape may or may not change for the next generation, but they will likely tackle these financial challenges in their own way, the report shows. Generation Z is just now starting to enter the housing market as renters.

“It’s encouraging to see that Generation Z is inheriting the same notion of what home means as their parents and millennial siblings,” says Jeremy Wacksman, chief marketing officer at Zillow Group. “These tech-savvy yet risk-averse renters are bringing their social personalities home, desiring communal amenities geared toward bringing people together.”

While Generation Z buyers embrace homeownership as fundamental to achieving the American Dream, high rent prices may stand in the way when it comes time for them to buy. Thirty-seven percent of renters who didn’t move in the past year state that lack of affordability is the main reason for staying put.

The millennial generation is redefining the way homeownership is approached, and Generation Z will have its own impact on the housing market in a few years, the report shows—especially since they will likely outnumber millennials by nearly 1 million people by 2020.

“As they mature and look toward homeownership, it will be interesting to see how their aspirations and preferences will shape the housing market,” says Wacksman.

by: Liz Dominguez, RISMedia’s associate content editor

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Scammers stole their home down payment. Here’s how you can avoid a similar ripoff

 

 — Over the course of seven years, a local couple saved tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment on their first home — then, scammers took their money.

These scammers are so slick and so cunning that it’s hard for home buyers and sellers to realize something is wrong. The growing problem is so common that the Federal Trade Commission recently reissued an alert about the scam. And, with more than $50,000 at stake, a couple of first-time home buyers in Durham want to reinforce the warning.

After months of searching, Cemal and Derya Biryol finally found their dream home, and their excitement grew even more when their offer was accepted and the closing date was set.

Everything seemed perfect until an email came that asked for their $53,000 down payment. The email appeared to come from their closing attorney and included their insurance information and the exact amount due: $53,194.48. Attached wiring instructions even warned about fraud.

Cemal wired the funds and emailed his realtor to be on the lookout for them. The realtor sounded the alarm when she realized the funds went to the wrong bank.

“I almost started crying,” said Cemal. “I felt ashamed, or helpless, because it’s all (Derya’s) savings, together it’s all our savings, and I just sent it to someone else in a matter of seconds.”

“You just think, oh my gosh, so much money, and it’s just gone,” said Derya.

Hackers target buyers, sellers, agents and attorneys in different scenarios. Often, they break into a broker’s email, gather sensitive and accurate information about a transaction, and then clone the email address. As the closing date nears, they email the buyer new wiring instructions.

“I was pleading with my bank,” said Cemal. “I lost myself for a moment — I was asking these people, saying I lost my life savings, please help me. Please, this is a scam, please. The bank said it was already past the half-hour limit, so they could not stop the transaction.”

The bank did flag the funds as fraudulent and try to recall the wire, and Detective Ben Garth with the Durham Police Department’s financial crimes unit jumped on the case.

“Once it’s gone, it’s usually gone,” said Garth, but then he discovered that the Biryol’s money landed in a busy account.  “Another $120,000 fraudulent wire came into the same account,” said Garth.

Ultimately, because of all the quick action involved, and because they sent the payment on a Friday afternoon, the Biryols lucked out.

“The wire operations end at the end of the day on Friday and start again on Monday, so nobody was able to touch the funds in that account after we wired the money,” said Cemal.

Even after the Biryols froze the funds, it still took two more weeks for the bank to release the funds back to them. “Right at that moment I saw that money and I felt relief,” said Cemal.

After a delayed closing, these first-time home buyers are hoping others hear their warning about how fortunate they feel to also be first-time scam survivors.

“It’s easy money for them, but it’s just cruel,” said Derya. “We got lucky,” Cemal agreed.

Officials say the best way to protect yourself from a similar scam is to verify all details of a real estate transaction by phone before you send anything. The phone numbers you use need to be legitimate, not numbers you receive in a suspicious email.

Even better? Make the exchange in person.

WRAL news: Reporter 

Energy Efficient Home Hacks to Complete Before End of Summer

It’s hard to believe that the end of summer is almost here!  The soaring temperatures of the time come with sky-high energy bills. If you’re looking to improve your home’s energy efficiency as your HVAC kicks into overdrive, consider adding these energy efficient home hacks to your weekend warrior to-do list.

Increase Insulation
Air leakages can occur anywhere in your home, resulting in your AC unit having to work that much harder to keep your home comfortable. Adding a new layer of insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more energy efficient. Best of all, you can do this easy hack yourself! Before laying any new insulation, be sure to plug up any large openings and seal off small cracks, especially around attic hatches, window frames, and electrical outlets.

Smart Home Automation
It seems like almost every electronic device now has a smart alternative on the market. Though it’s easy to write off this technology as a luxury, most of these devices can actually go a long way in helping to reduce your energy usage each month. Whether it’s a thermostat that learns your family’s habits or a dishwasher that only runs during off-peak energy hours, smart home appliances and devices can go a long way in helping curb your family’s energy demands.

Close Your Blinds
Sometimes the best hacks are also the easiest—and cheapest! By simply closing your blinds, especially for south- and west-facing windows, you have the potential to save upwards of seven percent off your energy bill, as well as lowering the ambient temperature by up to 20 degrees. Considering that almost 30 percent of unwanted humid summer heat comes in from your windows, it makes sense to drop the shades on the afternoon sun. Better yet, if it’s in your budget, replace those worn-out windows altogether. Energy Star has found that most homeowners can expect to see an average 12 percent drop in their home’s energy consumption after replacing single-pane windows with Energy Star qualified alternatives.

Landscape to Lower Energy
Think of landscaping as your exterior blinds, and plant a few trees along the south side of your home to help block direct sunlight from ever making it to your windows. Ensure that any tree you plant is a leafy variety, rather than an evergreen, so that you can get exceptional shade in the summer and plenty of warming sun in the leafless winter months. Similarly, plant evergreen shrubs around your home’s foundation to add year-round insulation

Cooking Counts

Summer is virtually synonymous with grilling, but did you ever consider just how much energy you can save by sparking up some charcoal instead of your oven? Not only will you be sparing yourself any operating costs, but you’ll also prevent your HVAC from having to combat the added heat your culinary masterpiece is likely to create.

The best way to make your home as energy-efficient as possible is to have a professional perform an energy audit. The typical audit usually only takes a couple hours of your time, but it has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in reduced energy expenses year round.

With a little planning ahead and a few upgrades, you’ll be saving energy daily!

By Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel – from Housecall