Monthly Archives: March 2016

Millennials Are Leaving City Life Behind


The urban landscape is changing as more millennials are opting to buy their home in the suburbs. According to the 2016 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, the number of millennials buying in urban or central city areas decreased by 17% this year.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says that while millennials may choose to live in an urban area as renters, the survey reveals that most aren’t staying once they’re ready to buy. “The median age of a millennial homebuyer is 30 years old, which typically is the time in life where one settles down to marry and raise a family,” he said. “Even if an urban setting is where they’d like to buy their first home, the need for more space at an affordable price is for the most part pushing their search further out.”

However, just because millennials are moving to the suburbs doesn’t mean they want to give up the amenities they enjoyed in an urban environment. Shannon Kutchek, a REALTOR with Smothers Realty Group in suburban LaGrange, IL, says,  “Most of my millennial clients are interested in moving to suburbs that have a core downtown, with shopping, restaurants and entertainment. They also look for homes that are close to the train station so they can easily commute to the city for work.”

Avoiding Pitfalls During The Home Loan Process

The Home Loan Process

The following excerpt from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Home Loan Toolkit notes some of the common pitfalls homeowners should avoid during the mortgage process. The complete toolkit, including financial worksheets and valuable tips, is available as a download (in PDF).  

Don’t sign documents when important details are left blank or documents you don’t understand.

You are agreeing to repay a substantial amount of money over an extended period of time. Make sure you know what you are getting into and protect yourself from fraud.

Don’t assume you are on your own either. HUD-approved housing counselors can help you navigate the process and find programs available to help first-time homebuyers. You can find a HUD-approved housing counselor in your area at or call HUD’s interactive voice system at (800) 569-4287.

Don’t take on more mortgage than you want or can afford.

Make certain that you want the loan that you are requesting and that you are in a position to live up to your end of the bargain. Don’t count on refinancing, and don’t take out a loan if you already know you will have to change it later.

If you are not comfortable with the loan offered to you, ask your lender if there is another option that works for you. Keep looking until you find the right loan for your situation.

Don’t fudge numbers or documents.

You are responsible for an accurate and truthful application. Be upfront about your situation. Mortgage fraud is a serious offense.

Don’t hide important financial information.

Hiding negative information may delay or derail your loan application.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a federal agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.  Have a question about a common consumer financial product or problem? You can find answers by visiting

About VHDA’s Down Payment Assistance Grant

Visit the VHDA’s website to download detailed information about the Down Payment Assistance Grant.

About the Grant

  • Qualified first-time homebuyers may receive a percentage of the purchase price to help with the down payment.
  • Maximum grant will be 3 – 3.5% of the purchase price, based on the down payment required for the eligible VHDA loan.
  • Buyers must have household incomes at or below program limits.
  • Down Payment Assistance Grant may be used with eligible VHDA loans only.
  • Grant funds may not be used in combination with other down payment assistance resources (including FHA Plus).
  • Down Payment Assistance Grant has no repayment.
  • VHDA’s eligible first mortgage must be locked on or after the program implementation date.
  • The eligible first mortgage must be locked prior to reserving the grant funds.
  • All borrowers receiving this grant are eligible for a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC). Borrowers must apply for an MCC through an approved MCC lender and receive an MCC commitment / approval prior to closing. (An MCC is a dollar-for-dollar credit against your federal income tax liability. Read more about MCCs.)
  • Other program requirements may apply.

Questions About the DPA Grant Program? Please contact your VHDA Business Development Officer or VHDA Single Family Underwriting 800-227-8432

Who Are The Millennial Home Buyers?


According to the 2016 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, millennials are the largest group of homebuyers for the third year running. So what does this new generation of homebuyers look like?

They earn a good living.

The median income of millennial homebuyers in this year’s survey was more than $77K. They also carry less student loan debt than Gen-X buyers, giving them greater buying power.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says, “One of the many reasons housing supply has been subdued in recent years may be because a segment of homeowners have decided to delay trading up or moving down in order to pay down their debt, including from student loans.”

They are redefining home ownership.

Millennials are dispelling the notion that young marrieds are the only ones flocking to the suburbs. In fact, 12% of millennial buyers are unmarried couples and 20% of buyers are single females.

They are buying more expensive homes in the suburbs.

On average, millennials are buying homes that are 1,720-square foot and cost $187,400 ($180,900 a year ago). The study also found that the number of millennials buying in an urban or central city area decreased to 17% (21% a year ago).

They value community and proximity.

The survey indicates that neighborhood quality and the convenience to their workplace were millennial’s largest influences when choosing a suburban community.

Shannon Kutchek, a REALTOR® with Smothers Realty Group in suburban La Grange, IL, says “Most of my millennial clients are interested in moving to suburbs that have a core downtown, with shopping, restaurants and entertainment. They also look for homes that are close to the train station so they can easily commute to the city for work.”

They want older homes.

The NAR generational survey indicates that the younger the buyer, the older the home they buy is.

Kelly Schoeff, a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker in the Chicago Western Suburbs, has noticed this trend as well. “Millennials are looking for an affordable single family home and they are willing to put in the time and work that older houses require. My other clients are more interested in a new home, or a home that has undergone enough renovation that it is in like-new condition. They are ready to say goodbye to their starter homes and the millennials are interested in buying them.”

They prefer to search online, than in person.

While 87% of millennial buyers work with a REALTOR® they aren’t too excited about attending open houses as their Gen-X counterparts. The survey indicates that millennials are also more likely to use mobile and tablet applications or search engines when house hunting.

It’s Tax Time…Don’t Forget your Home Office Deductions!

Fast Fact: More than 30 million Americans work from home. Of those, 26 million don’t get all their tax benefits. Don’t miss out on yours!

You’ve joined the growing ranks of those who work from home, and have enjoyed the personal benefits that come with it (no more 45-minute commute!), but are you missing out on the financial benefits?

Odds are good that you are.

Of the 30 million people who work from home today, only 4 million are getting all the tax benefits available to them.

Why so few?  Some fear filing for home office deductions may trigger a tax audit. But, tax experts say, working from home is so common today that it’s not really a red flag anymore. Other work-from-home taxpayers simply don’t know how to file for the benefits — or that they’re even entitled to them.

How Do I Know if I Can Take Home Office Deductions?

You’re entitled as long as your home office fits these two IRS criteria:

  • Your home office must be used “regularly and exclusively” for conducting business.
  • It needs to be your “principal place of business.”

If that sounds like your office, then you can deduct part of your mortgage interest, insurance, real estate taxes, and utilities based on the square footage of your office space. You can also deduct some repairs and even write off the depreciation of your home and home improvements. Use IRS Form 8829.

What If I Don’t Want to Itemize? 

If you don’t want the hassle of itemizing those deductions, the IRS created a simplified method: take up to 300 square feet (the cap the IRS allows) and multiply by the dollar rate set by the IRS (today it’s $5 for a maximum deduction of $1,500). No intense paperwork required!

The IRS created Publication 587 to answer any questions you may have. Don’t forget that consulting with a qualified tax professional is always a good idea, especially if you’re still unsure of what you can and can’t deduct.

More on this topic

Student Loan Debt Isn’t Stopping Millennials From Buying Homes

Student Debt

Although student loan debt is a prevalent concern for many millennials, it’s not preventing them from dominating the home buying market. A 2016 National Association of REALTORS® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study* found that 35 percent of all home buyers were millennials. More than the combined amount of younger and older boomers (31 percent). Generation X were 26 percent of buyers, and the Silent Generation made up 9 percent.

The survey also found that despite millennials’ concern over student loan debt, they are actually not the generation that is struggling with the largest balances. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist remarks on the findings, “Whether it’s from financing their own education or borrowing for their children, it’s somewhat surprising to see a higher median amount of student debt among Gen X ($28,000) and younger boomer buyers ($29,100) compared to millennials ($25,000).”

Even though millennials continue to see student debt as their primary obstacle when becoming a homeowner, they have led the housing market for the past three years. Among the buyers who said saving for a down payment was the most difficult task, millennials were also most likely to cite student debt (53 percent) as reason for the delayed saving. However, on average millennials only postponed buying a home for three years in order to pay down debt, while older baby boomers needed six years.

*Survey generational breakdowns: millennials (ages 35 and under); Generation X (ages 36-50); younger boomers (ages 51-60); older boomers (ages 61-69); and the Silent Generation (ages 70-90).