First Time Homebuyers in Virginia Real Estate Market: Millennial Children Come of Age

Millennial Children are the youth of America, now coming of age when it comes to owning their first home. Millennial buyers are between 18-34 and their financial lives are much different than their forbears. Challenges many have faced include: unemployment, high student loan debts and tight credit. So, for many Millennial Children, their ability to purchase and finance a home has been curbed in their twenties. But as they enter their thirties, Millennials are going to be an increasingly large group in the home buying market. In National Association of Realtors (NAR) “Field Guide to Millennial Home Buyers,” updated in August 2014, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found, “the number of households in their 30s should increase by 2.7 million over the coming decade, which should boost the demand for new housing.”

The entry of Millennial children into the home buying market is a good sign that home sales are improving. When first time homebuyers are a significant part of the real estate market (currently nearly 40%) it means the real estate market is stabilizing and even trending upward.

For many first time homebuyers, the ability to make a down payment of 5% or more plus closing costs is a significant barrier. Real estate industry researchers estimate fifty percent of Millennial Children will ask their parents or someone in their family for the money for a down payment for a home. The other 50% will aspire to be homeowners with their own resources. In order to qualify for mortgage financing, these Millennial Children must be employed and in good standing with their credit.

For REALTORS selling to the Millennial group, the steps to purchase a first home have not changed, though the needs of this particular age group are different then their predecessors – Generations X and Y. These older generations purchased their first homes during more prosperous economic times when jobs were plentiful. Many were able to hold onto their properties during the recession and are now looking at selling and moving to upgrade for more space or downsize for retirement. Millennials will be their buyers – and so will active Baby Boomers.

There are a few options REALTORS can recommend to first time homebuyers pressed for down payments and closing costs. If Millennnial Children have good credit and want help with the down payment and/or closing costs, some states may provide this sort of assistance, with special programs that backend costs onto the mortgage and/or charge zero interest on the amount needed, or even forgive the down payment debt after a certain number of years.

Home Ownership Assistance Programs for First Time Homebuyers in Virginia
For the first time homebuyer in Virginia, it is worthwhile looking into loan programs by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA). The goal of the VHDA is to help Virginians acquire quality, affordable housing. There are multiple 30 year-fixed rate mortgage programs to choose from: conventional fixed rate mortgages, an FHA insured loan with low down payments or FHA Plus – with a second mortgage to finance a down payment. Depending upon the area where the home is purchased, a homebuyer may be eligible for a Rural Housing Services (RHS) government insured zero down payment loans. There are also Veterans Administration loans for those who qualify. VHDA is a privately funded organization that makes all of these programs available through one agency and makes it easy to apply. Visit for more information on home lending programs.

First Time Home Buyer Savings Plans (FHSPs)
In 2014, The legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia, recognizing first time home purchases are an indicator the economy is healthy and growing, decided to implement a program to strengthen this market. The First-time Homebuyer Savings Plan (FHSP) was established to stimulate more first time home sales now and in the future. The FHSP can be set up by any resident of the Commonwealth as a state tax-free savings account that can accrue up to $50,000 towards the cost of down payments for home purchases in Virginia. These special savings accounts are only sheltered from state taxes, so long as funds are used to purchase a home in Virginia. The future homeowners, or their parents or relatives that want to save money on their behalf may establish FHSP accounts. If the funds are used for anything except purchasing a first home, then the funds are subject to the usual Commonwealth of Virginia taxes and fees.

The FHSP program in Virginia is another example of the way in which first time homebuyers are being encouraged to complete their first home purchase, and move the economy forward.

Besides securing financing for a home, first time homebuyers have other decisions to make before purchasing. The property should be a good investment that will be conducive to resale if the homeowner wants to step up to another property. A first home is most likely to be a good investment if it is located convenient to shopping, dining and entertainment. A detailed look at a home inspection will reveal any pressing problems with the property and title insurance must be able to be obtained. A good, qualified REALTOR can handle all of these inquiries and details.