First-time buyers have a whole lot of saving to do — possibly more than a decade of saving for a home purchase. It can take, on average, 12.5 years for first-time buyers to save a 20 percent down payment based on a current personal savings rate at 5.6 percent, according to new research by RealtyTrac. The figure is based on current median home prices and doesn’t take into account further home price rises.
In RealtyTrac’s analysis of 512 counties, it found that the median price of a home is around $259,000, which would require buyers to save $51,800 for a 20 percent down payment.
Millennials entering the workforce often have several years until they start earning the national median salary — usually that is not reached until the age of 30, according to a 2013 Georgetown University study by Anthony Carnevale, “Failure to Launch: Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation.”
If that’s the case, first-time buyers who need a 20 percent down payment would have to wait until they’re 42 years old to be able to afford to buy a house, Carnevale told The Wall Street Journal. Coupled with other debt, such as student loans, the wait could even be longer.
Melvin Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, has suggested lowering the down payment for a conventional loan to 3 percent from the traditional 20 percent. In that case, it would take first-time buyers less than two years to save enough.
The Federal Housing Administration allows buyers to get a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent with a 30-year fixed rate. However, buyers still have to meet the debt-to-income ratio and cash reserve requirements and they would likely qualify for better terms for a loan if they could bring a higher down payment, says Whitney Fite, managing director of Angel Oak Home Loans in Atlanta.