If you've based your ideas of house hunting on your youthful quests for new apartments, think again. Finding your own place to buy is staggeringly complicated, emotionally rattling, and no small expense on its own. If it all seems harder than you ever thought, take some small comfort in this: It's not you. There literally aren't enough houses out there.
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Last month, NerdWallet found that nationally, Americans could sell all the available houses out there in just under four months. These are not good conditions for buyers, especially first-time buyers. It may come as no surprise, then, that only 36.5 percent of people under the age of 35 own their own homes. Among those between 45 and 54, the rate is twice that.
There isn't any single reason why this is, but some in particular may be contributing most to the problem. For one, Baby Boomers aren't leaving the homes they've owned forever, and what homes are empty are often rented out instead of sold. Rent prices are rising faster than home prices, while mortgage rates remain low, so at a time when income is tight for most Americans, they want to hold on to their options. Between regulations, local zoning, and the high cost of construction work, suppliers are catering to projects that can recoup their investments — meaning fewer options for entry-level home owners.
Despite the long wait and arduous search, you can put yourself in a good position to pounce when the right thing comes along. Sock away as much as you can for a down payment and savings, and make sure your credit score is as up to snuff as possible. Putting in an offer can be a cutthroat process, but when it's over, you'll realize again what it all was for.