Homebuying Ain’t What it Used to Be


Just a heads up, this post is sponsored by the fine folks at ChaseThis should go without saying, but all opinions are our own and came straight from our own noggins.

A few months ago, our household caught a mild fever. This particular fever tends to hit a lot of families around springtime, actually. And it mainly seems to affect adults, not children, although it spreads between friends, neighbors, and extended family as quickly as a viral dog video on Facebook. Yep, you guessed it, this wasn’t any normal kind of fever — this was homebuying fever. And the only cure? More cowbell.

Seriously though, we dipped our toes into the homebuying pool for a few weeks before deciding it still wasn’t quite time to dive in. This isn’t the first time in our marriage we caught homebuying fever, and it definitely won’t be the last. But what we do know for sure is that the homebuying process has evolved dramatically since our parents were buying the homes we grew up in. And we’re excited to partner with Chase to highlight some of these shifts and make the homebuying experience easier and a little more transparent.

Hot off the press, Chase released an interesting national survey (“Insights from the Mind of the Modern Homebuyer”) that confirms homebuying trends are shifting as more of us techy-millennials are putting our grown-up pants on and considering home ownership. The main takeaways are that homebuyers are no longer buying into the “forever place” mentality (we can sympathize), and are increasingly turning to digital solutions and do-it-yourself approaches. There are a lot of other juicy details to dive into.

Chase homebuying infographic

First off, over two-thirds of respondents started their home search on their own, and almost all of them used technology to begin the process. We similarly used websites like Zillow and Trulia to sift through some potential homes in areas we liked rather than jumping on board with an agent from the get-go. Any time we can do something in sweatpants and avoid having to talk to someone on the phone is a victory. Can I get an amen?!

That isn’t to say respondents (or us) don’t value the knowledge a professional would bring to the table. Approximately three-quarters agreed a mortgage professional and an agent were the best way to move forward when buying a home. There are plenty of good reasons to cut middlemen out of transactions if it saves you money, but in this case, folks see the value that a good real estate agent can bring to the table. I’m actually surprised this number remains so high with the prevalence of DIY-ers and technology looking to upend the status quo. But if and when we get around to finally taking the home ownership plunge, we’re planning on using a real estate agent.

Another interesting tidbit from the survey was about personal finance and the age at which respondents felt was the right time to start saving for a home. While some people may brush off savings and retirement as to-do list items for their 40s (which you definitely shouldn’t), we agree with the vast majority of those polled that said your 20s is the right time to start stashing money away for a home purchase. Still, everyone’s circumstances are different. What’s most important in our books is first being debt-free and having a good, solid emergency fund socked away before getting that down payment together, no matter your age.

And finally, gone are the days when you buy a home, plant roots, and live there for the rest of your lives. Three of four respondents said they don’t plan on staying in their homes long-term. Call it the curse of the millennials, FOMO, YOLO, or whatever other acronym you will, but having moved 10 times in less than 10 years of marriage, we’d have to agree that times have changed. Career mobility within companies has taken a back seat to bigger salary gains by changing jobs. When we do purchase, we’ll do our best to make sure we’ll be there at least five years, but that’s about as far as our crystal ball will forecast.

One day, we know we’ll be ready to make the home buying leap for real. Our harmless window shopping will morph into signed stacks of paperwork and our sweaty palms holding the key to our biggest purchase ever. If you’re ready to come down with homebuying fever and let it take you all the way to full-blown home ownership, check out chase.com/homebuyers for more survey deets, and homebuying tools and tips.

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  • Reply Courtney Hugo April 15, 2016 at 11:16 am

    We just bought our first home last year after seven years of marriage- and 2 years later than planned or hoped for. And I’m so glad we waited. First of all, interest rates fell during that time, so our mortgage has an extremely low interest rate. And the real reason we waited was to save up a 20% down payment on our home. Now we live in a home we love, and between a good interest rate, no PMI, and choosing something well within our budget, we have a mortgage payment that we are comfortable with (in fact, our 5 bedroom home mortgage payment is less than it would cost us to rent something much, much smaller). I completely agree that a home purchase shouldn’t be rushed into and there is no problem with renting until you are really ready to buy a home.

  • Reply Megyn April 15, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Just a quick word of advice: Trulia + Zillow are HORRIBLE for house searching. A lot of what they show is not currently on the market, pending, or just plain wrong. Every Realtor we’ve spoken with says to avoid those sites at all costs. Redfin is a far, far better option. Also, you may want to go through a local Realtor’s site just to see actual MLS listings. It doesn’t mean you have to do business with them, it’s just a way to stay updated on the market.

    This is coming from a 30 year old who is on to her second owned house, and hoping this is the one we stay in until our kids are grown (just another 12ish years!!!)

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  • Reply Jordan April 21, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s important that we understand how much the housing market has changed, and how those changes affect how we buy homes now.

  • Reply Tamara S April 26, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Your right about that. I think your smart to wait until you really know where you want to put your roots down for awhile. Houses can be such money pits honestly, even brand new ones. We bought a 3 year old home back in 2004 but the expenses this house have incurred really add up… more than I ever expected. Replacing carpet, painting walls, finishing basement, adding fence, replaced the AC unit last year was a whopping $1700 expense and that’s not even including normal maintenance things like lawn mowers, weed wackers, fertilizer. They are seriously such money pits, even in good times. Our water heater is next on the list.

    I get so frustrated with the housing market and everytime we look at a bigger, nicer place I can just see the dollar bills flying out the window. Plus we’d really like to put 20% down if we do move. So for now we stay put in our starter home.

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