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How Freddie Mac is addressing affordable housing challenges

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MortgageReal Estate

Key to Millennial homeownership: Education

UWM says mortgage industry should do more to educate first-time homebuyers

Many Millennials want to enter the housing market, and even could enter, but are unaware they already hold the resources they need for homeownership.

United Wholesale Mortgage recently conducted a study on Millennials, generally referenced as ages 20 to 36 and the largest living generation with 75.4 million, according to Pew Research Center.

Up until down, Millennials have been trickling into homeownership, however they are waiting longer than previous generations to settle down and buy a home. Unlike previous generations, they have extra hurdles to overcome in their path to homeownership.

“Millennials getting married later definitely impacts that timing,” UWM CEO Mat Ishbia said in an interview with HousingWire. “Also Millennials growing up during that subprime crash during 2005, ’06, ’07, ’08 – they saw what happened to their parents and/or family members and they have a bad taste in their mouth. I think the combination of both those things is making Millennials wait a couple more years than they would have done.”

And on top of that, the market is not pretty for first-time homebuyers right now with its fierce competition, inventory shortages and rising home prices.

However, Ishbia continues on to explain that Millennials are now entering a time when they are ready to buy a home, and simply don’t know that they can.

“They just don’t know – that’s where your job, my job, all of our jobs is to help educate people and to help them know this is available today,” he said.

And this isn’t the first time UWM pointed out shortcomings in the industry when it comes to educating consumers. After a study by the National Association of Realtors showed 87% of non-homeowners think they need at least 10% down to buy a home, United Wholesale explained the industry needs to step-up their education standards.

Ishbia explained this thought that a higher down payment is needed holds Millennials back from buying a home more than any other factor.

“Most of them [Millennials] are on the fence not buying houses, and the big why behind that is they think they have to save up a lot more money for a down payment,” he said. “When you tell them that a down-payment can be as little as two months’ rent, 96% of them say they’ll buy, and that’s a big difference.”

He pointed out that, despite rumors that Millennials are not interested in buying a home, 91% say they do want to buy a home, a number that increases when told the down payment can be much lower than many think.

And Ishbia further explains that Millennials don’t know what they don’t know. The study showed about 14% of potential homebuyers indicated they weren’t even familiar with the concept of a mortgage broker, while another 37% said they had heard of a broker, but didn’t know what they do.

“It’s just our fault in the industry, all of us, for not educating people,” Ishbia told HousingWire. “The best place for a borrower to get a loan is a mortgage broker, and as you educate them and explain the options and the difference, they pick a broker 100 times out of 100.”

Using brokers could give Millennials more flexibility and loan options to enter the market with 5%, 3% or even 1% down.

When Millennials realize that they have smaller down payment options, student debt also becomes much less of a problem. Ishbia explained the greatest hindrance student debt creates is the inability to save up for a down payment. Once Millennials are educated on their options, that impediment is removed.

But what of the housing market itself? With its inventory shortages and competitive home-buying process, it is not the most welcoming place for first-time buyers. However, Ishbia explained that Millennials entering the housing market could be the solution that spurs a more balanced market.

“What happens when a bunch of people buy houses: there’s a bunch of appraisals being done, there’s a bunch of title work being done, there’s a bunch of loan officer sales being done, there’s a bunch of homebuilding being done, there’s a bunch of inspections being done – it fuels the whole economy,” Ishbia said.

“It’s like a trickle up effect, but it’s got to start with education,” he concluded. “We have to push the boulder down the hill, and it will start to pick up steam and help every part of the economy.”

But this theme of educating the upcoming generations is catching on. Century 21 Real Estate recently launched Adulting 101, a digital and social program designed to engage and educate Millennials and first-time homebuyers.

This program takes Millennials through topics such as boosting their credit and getting their “ducks in a row” for home buying.

However, even this tool could be misleading as it tells Millennials that “Most people strive for 10% of the down payment. 20% is ambitious but will give you the most wiggle room and you’ll want to give yourself as much padding as you can.”

But that way of thinking is exactly what this study warns against.

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