Lew Sichelman

It may never be too early to become a homeowner. But for some, it may be better to wait until they mature a tad. 

Thats one of the findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics recent National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. It tracked lifetime homeownership rates and how long individuals sustained ownership, covering the years from 1979 (when most participants were between the ages of 17 and 21) to 2016.  

In contrast to the homeownership rate, which measures ownership at a specific point in time, the lifetime rate measures whether someone has been a homeowner at any point in his or her life. And concurrently, it can show how long people survive as owners once they take the plunge. 

As economists at the National Association of Home Builders read the results, survival rates gradually improved as the studied cohort grew into their 30s. 

Of those who became owners in 1980 at around age 23, only 53 percent were owners after eight years. But of those who joined the ranks in 1992, in their mid-30s, 88 percent were still owners eight years later. 

Another observation from the NAHB: Most likely the result of the Great Recession, survival rates fell steeply between 2004 and 2012. Those who bought just prior to the downturn were most likely to fall by the wayside, because they bought at the top of the market and had little time to build equity before prices crashed. 

As they say, timing is everything. 

Women Out-Own Men 

Single women may earn just 79 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men. But they own more homes than single men, according to an analysis from online mortgage marketplace LendingTree. 

In total, unmarried women own more than 1.5 million more homes than unwed men in Americas 50 largest metro areas: about 5.1 million homes to mens 3.5 million. There isnt a single Top 50 metro where men out-own women. 

Women also take out more equity-conversion mortgages than men, and almost as many as married couples, according to data shared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development at a recent industry gathering. 

Nearly 40 percent of such mortgages insured by the government last year were to multiple borrowers (likely married couples). But 38 percent went to single women  most likely recent widows who found themselves short on cash. 

Spot the Fake Employer 

Fannie Mae, the big secondary mortgage market entity that purchases loans from other lenders, now has a catalog of 65 fake outfits listed as employers on loan applications  businesses whose existences could not be confirmed. 

There are all sorts of tip-offs. One is that the occupation listed by the borrower does not credibly coincide with the borrowers age or experience. Another is that the applicant has only been on the job for a short time. 

Other red flags: Prior employment is listed as student, the starting salary appears high, the employers stated location cant be ascertained, the templates of submitted pay stubs are strikingly similar to those of other fake employers, and the pay stubs lack such typical withholding items as health and medical insurance. 

In one case, the would-be borrower said hed been a student prior to his current job. But he claimed three years of work experience, and had only been at the job three months. In other instance, the applicants pay stub didnt match previous stubs from the same employer. 

Home ‘Profit’ Gains Reflect Tenure 

Home-sellers last year nailed a gain of $65,000, a 13-year high, according to ATTOM Data Solutions end-of-year report. 

Notice I didnt use the word profit or the term pocketed. Because people probably didnt do either. 

The gain, as measured by the data analytics company, is based on the selling price minus the purchase price. Its highly likely these folks spent some money from their own resources to improve their properties  and thats a debit, not a credit, on every homeowners scorecard. So is whatever they may have had to lay out at closing on behalf of the buyer. 

Sure, you can deduct the cost of a kitchen or bath remodel, as well as some other expenses. But its still money out-of-pocket that must come off the bottom line before figuring your profit or return on investment. 

That said, sellers last year still did better than the previous group, when the gain on the typical sale was only $58,100. One reason: People had been in their houses a wee bit longer than in 2018. Indeed, tenure last year  8.21 years  was the longest since 2000. 

Families Help Out Many 

According to a recent report from the CBC Mortgage Agency, families provide financial assistance on about a third of all purchase transactions in which the financing is insured by Uncle Sam. 

But because minorities often dont have the inter-generational wealth to help their family members, down payment assistance has become an effective tool for them to achieve ownership, a status they might not otherwise be able to afford. 

A CBC study found that more than half of borrowers receiving assistance in the form of grants, silent second mortgages and the like were racial or ethnic minorities, and more than a third were the first in their families to buy a house. 

Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 50 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing-finance industry publications. Readers can contact him at lsichelman@aol.com. 

Better Put Off that Home Purchase, Kid

by Lew Sichelman time to read: 4 min