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4 things every Millennial homebuyer in the US should know about downpayments

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Photo: Robert Clark

Saving for a downpayment is often the biggest hurdle for first-time buyers. Despite a recent uptick, the Millennial homeownership rate still lags far behind that of previous generations.

Even with a booming economy and strong job market, national wage growth hasn’t kept up with rising home prices. That, along with large amounts of student loan debt, has kept many American Millennials out of the housing market — despite a strong desire to own their own homes.

Nine out of ten Millennial renters want to purchase a home, but very few have plans to do so in the immediate future, according to a new report from the listing site ApartmentList. In fact, over a third say they plan to buy in five years or more. Not being able to afford a downpayment was one of the chief reasons given for not buying sooner.

Here are a few things prospective buyers should know about downpayments before they take the plunge into home ownership :

1. Know your options and the risks

According to Apartment List, some 62 percent of prospective buyers said they can’t afford a downpayment. And while 20 percent down is the standard, it is not written in stone. Buyers can put down more or even less — much less. There are assistance programs to help first-time buyers purchase a home with as little as 3 percent down.

Putting 3 percent down shaves a lot of years off a savings plan, but it does have a downside.

“While those programs could be very advantageous, putting down less than 20 percent often results in added costs from higher interest rates and mortgage insurance premiums,” Chris Salviati and Rob Warnock, the authors of the report, tell Livabl.

But as difficult as it may be to save up 20 percent, it could give buyers an edge.

“If a seller has three offers, one with 25 percent down, one with 20 percent and one with 3 percent, which offer do you think they’ll accept?” asks Bridget Harvey, a licensed real estate associate with Douglas Elliman.

2. Saving takes time — a lot of time

At their current rate of saving, it could take over 20 years for two-thirds of Millennial renters to put away a 20 percent down payment. ApartmentList estimated that only 11 percent of Millennials who plan to buy will be able to save enough for a 20 percent down payment within the next 5 years.

In each of the metros ApartmentList analyzed, it estimated that fewer than half of Millennials will have a 20 percent down payment saved before 2038. Depending on the market, prospective buyers would need to save anywhere from $44,000 in Louisiana (based on a median home price of $220,000) to over $200,000 in California (based on a median home price of $1 million).

Reverse engineering a budget is one way to stay on track.

“First figure out how much you need to save to buy your dream home in your market, and when you want to buy. Look at the numbers realistically and see how much you can afford to save and where you might be able to make some cuts,” says Harvey.

3. Gifts and financial assistance

ApartmentList asked survey respondents how much financial support they expect to receive toward a downpayment from family and other outside sources, and found that nearly 20 percent expect some amount of help.

And gifts can certainly expedite the savings process. Among Millennials earning more than $50,000 and expecting help with a down payment, ApartmentList estimated that nearly 33 percent would be able to secure a 20 percent downpayment within the next five years, compared to 20 percent of those with similar earnings but no expected assistance.

But no matter how much or how little assistance you get, remember that it will take time to source any gifts you receive. In other words, get the money into your account as soon as possible to avoid delays later on.

“Because of the Patriot Act, the bank looks at two months of statements and if there is a large deposit from overseas, it has to be sourced and that can delay the process if the country of origin doesn’t handle statements the way the US does,” says Harvey.

4. Always expect the downpayment to be larger

According to ApartmentList, many prospective homebuyers expect to purchase homes that are priced well below the median in their market — a highly unlikely scenario given the current lack of starter home inventory in most markets throughout the country.

“In Phoenix, for example, a 20 percent down payment on the median-priced condo amounts to $33,400, but our survey respondents in the area expect to need $17,610, on average,” reads the report.

A good way to get a sense of your market and what you can afford is to attend open houses.

“Open houses are free to attend and buyers should attend a lot of them. They give a real-world view of what they can get for their money, and also help buyers nail down what they really want and don’t want in their ideal home,” says Harvey.

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CFL: Argonauts counting on quarterback Arbuckle to see them past Ticats in feisty rematch

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The Toronto Argonauts went back to winning ways after suffering a defeat in Winnipeg by claiming victory over the Blue Bombers in their Toronto home opener.

This was off the back of a defeat by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Labor Day and with a rematch in view, the Argonauts are looking for an equally impressive repeat performance during their Friday rematch.

Ryan Dinwiddie, head coach of the Toronto Argonauts and his coaching staff did a tremendous job in making all the necessary adjustments in their tactics following the team’s defeat in the Peg. The task facing the Argonauts this week is quite similar.

With the CFL back in action, just like playing at online slots Canada, punters can ride their luck by betting on the Argos to come out victorious during this rematch.

However, just like how Winnipeg dominated on its home turf, the Ticats were also the better team at Tim Hortons Field. But when the Argos got ready for the Bombers at BMO, Dinwiddie made the vital switch at quarterback by starting Nick Arbuckle, who threw for 300 yards, one touchdown and dashed towards a major in his debut at quarterback.

Dinwiddie eventually replaced Arbuckle with McLeod Bethel-Thompson in the Hammer, but only when the Argos winning the game was no longer in doubt.

In Friday’s rematch, the Argonauts will field Arbuckle in the starting line up under centre and hoping for a repeat performance, said Dinwiddie in an interview. He noted that his team don’t intend to make Arbuckle the scapegoat during the game.

The front seven of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats dominated the game against the Argos and even when they had just five players in the box, it was extremely difficult for the Argos to take control of the line of scrimmage.

They stand a chance of redeeming themselves during their rematch, the Toronto Argonauts must take control of the line or at the very least not allow the Ticats to dominate them on the field of play.

The Argos completed touchdowns in all three phases during their Monday game, but they would need to be a lot better offensively against the Ticats.

“We weren’t very good up front,” said Dinwiddie. “I don’t care who was back there (at QB). We didn’t have a chance to win that football game based on our production.”

When up against a very organized Bombers defence—which lost six points to Hamilton in their season opener and then seven points to the Argos in game 2—the Argos were very impressive in their transitions, running and throwing the ball well and eventually being able to dictate the tempo of the game by controlling the time of possession.

The final scoreline of 30-22 score heavily flattered the Bombers, who got a defensive score following a sack and strip. Dinwiddie has taken full responsibility for his team’s apparent lack of composure during the first loss and is counting on his team to turn things around and be more composed.

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Canadian Leylah Fernandez through to the semi-finals of the U.S. Open after another major victory

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Canadian tennis player Leylah Fernandez has stunned the world of tennis again after recording an impressive win over fifth-ranked superstar Elina Svitolina on Tuesday, to progress to the semifinal of the U.S. Open.

Fernadez who only just turned 19 on the 6th of September, is now one of the youngest female tennis players to reach the U.S. Open semifinal since 2005 when Maria Sharapova achieved the feat at the age of 18. Emma Raducanu, the 18-year-old British tennis player also reached the semifinals on Wednesday.

Since eliminating third-ranked Naomi Osaka in the previous game, Fernandez, who is of Latino descent—with an Ecuadorian father and a Filipina-Canadian mother—has greatly captured the heart of the audience in New York.  

Also, her latest victory has earned the title of being the youngest player ever to eliminate two WTA Top-5 players at a major tournament, since 1999 when 17-year-old Serena Williams achieved this at the U.S. Open. Also, Montreal’s Félix Auger-Aliassime equally progressed to the U.S. Open semifinals on Tuesday.

When quizzed about the incredible success of Canadian players during this year’s tournament, Fernandez attributed it to the “maple syrup”.

Still hoping to hit jackpot by claiming her first major, Fernandez’s journey so far has not only been a thing of pride for Canadians but all members of the Ecuadorian and Filipino diaspora community across the country.

“This is particularly a golden moment,” said Romeo Candido, a filmmaker, writer and musician in a report. “To have someone who is repping both the Filipino and Canadian identity, it’s giving us a whole new level of feeling: Through association it makes us feel victorious ourselves.”

Ranked 73rd in the world, the current U.S. Open is only just the seventh major tournament of Fernandez’s career. Midway through the first set, she broke Svitolina and went on to win four out of 10 breakpoints in a game that lasted for two hours and 24-minutes.

“I was only thinking of trusting myself, trusting my game. After every point, win or lose, I would always tell myself, ‘Trust my game. Go for my shots. Just see where the ball goes,’” said Fernandez.

“I obviously have no idea what I’m feeling right now,” she continued. “I was so nervous. I was trying to do what my coach told me to do.”

Fernandez’s father doubles as her coach but was unable to be in New York, however, he stayed back at home and offered her daily tips during their frequent phone conversations. Her father’s coaching, alongside the roar of support she received from the crowd in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, who clapped and cheered wildly every time Fernandez claimed a point was quite instrumental to her victory.

“Thanks to you, I was able to push through today,” she told the supportive crowd after her victory.

In the next round, she would need another impressive performance to swing past No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, a Wimbledon semifinalist in July and who defeated Barbora Krejcikova, the French Open champion in two straight sets, 6-1, 6-4.

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What Is A Housing Bubble? And Are We In One?

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What is a housing bubble? You’ve undoubtedly heard the term, but what does it actually mean, and is Canada experiencing one? Whether you already own a home, are considering buying one in the near future, or you’re waiting for the right time to sell, here we answer what is a housing bubble, what causes it, and how it may affect you.

What is a Housing Bubble?

A housing bubble happens when the price of homes rises quickly, at an unsustainable rate. Typically, a price-growth rate that’s in the high single-digits is considered to be healthy and sustainable. Under healthy conditions, homeowners continue to earn equity over time, sellers can make a profit on resale, and buyers can still afford to get into the market. This type of price growth can usually be explained by economic factors, such as an employment boom and favourable interest rates.

On the other hand, a housing bubble can happen as a result of non-organic growth. For example, if speculators were flooding the market, buying up homes to take advantage of rapid price growth, with the intention of selling in the near term for a hefty profit. When prices are deemed to have hit a high point, speculators list their properties for sale. This massive influx of listings, coupled with stagnating demand, causes prices to plummet and results in a “housing market crash.”

A housing bubble is a temporary event and prices eventually return to normal levels, when demand rises again and home-buying activity resumes.

What Happens When a Housing Bubble Bursts?

During a housing bubble, homes become overvalued. When the bubble bursts, prices fall. Homeowners who have no intention of selling are unlikely to feel the direct impacts of the bursting bubble. However, these market conditions often indirectly impact other aspects of the economy, so to call homeowners who aren’t selling “free and clear” would be misleading. The ripple effects of a bursting housing bubble would likely touch most of us, in one way or another.

Homebuyers who purchased a home during a housing bubble likely paid considerably more than it is worth. Properties bought by end-users as a residence, with no intention of being sold in the short-term, will eventually rebound closer to “normal” values and at some point, return to positive growth.

A housing bubble poses the biggest risk to home sellers. Those who purchased in the bubble, but now find themselves forced to sell their home, will come up short on resale. They bought the home at a price that exceeds what they can recoup, putting them in the red with no asset to show for it.

For example, someone purchased at peak market prices, but due to circumstances such as a job loss or the inability to carry the costs for any reason, now has no choice but to sell in a down market. The seller still owes money to their mortgage lender on a home that they no longer own.

Are We in a Housing Bubble?

The Canadian housing market took a surprising upward turn during the COVID-19 pandemic, after coming to a grinding halt in mid-March. The slow-down was short-lived, and what followed through the remainder of 2020 was a a spike in demand for homes met by a shortage of supply. With 2021 well underway, there appears to be no end in sight.

There are a number of factors that indicate we’re not experiencing a bubble caused my market speculators, contrary to some media reports.

A recent online survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents in Western Canada, Ontario and Atlantic Canada found that speculators are not a factor in the Canadian real estate market at this time. In fact, more than 96% of RE/MAX brokers and agents supported this finding, confirming that the majority of homebuyers are end-users. Speculators tend to wait out hot markets, buying when prices are down and selling when they’re up again. The short-term investment opportunities they’re generally looking for are hard to find under current market conditions. Bully offers and bidding wars are commonplace, and we continue to see demand outpacing supply with the release of the monthly housing market data. These factors are generally inhospitable to speculators and investors.

For a housing bubble to burst, there needs to be a steep incline in inventory and new listings, and a decline in demand – neither of which is likely to happen any time soon.

Housing Crash 2021? It’s Highly Unlikely.

The Canadian housing market is still feeling the impacts of the pent-up demand from 2017, when the government introduced the foreign buyer tax and the mortgage stress test as a means to cool the overheating market. These policies prompted many homebuyers to move to the sidelines, opting to wait and save, with plans to re-engage in the housing market in a few years.

Now fast-forward a few years to 2020. COVID-19 had a similar impact on the market, whereby many homebuyers delayed their purchase plans due to pandemic-related uncertainties. That pre-existing pent-up demand for homes continued to swell. With Canadians subject to stay-at-home orders with nowhere to go and spend their hard-earned money, they collectively saved historically high sums, which was injected back into the housing market once consumer confidence returned. The spending came in the form of record-high home sales and for those who were unwilling to face the competitive resale market conditions, renovations to existing dwellings. In fact, Canadian real estate was said to be the driving force behind the Canadian economy in 2020.

Savings, low interest rates and low inventory continue to put pressure on the housing market.

Now, consider the housing needs of the 1.2 million people who are expected to immigrate to Canada through 2023, per the government’s 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.

Given all this, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll experience the influx of real estate listings needed for a housing market crash – and if we did see those listings suddenly come on stream, there should be plenty of buyers to absorb them.

Homebuyers and Sellers, Do Your Due Diligence

Challenging market conditions and a still-present global pandemic have added some personal risk on the part of homebuyers and sellers. It’s important to remember that conditions vary across Canada, and can be dramatically different between provinces, cities, and even from one neighbourhood to the next. Now more than ever, it’s important to work with a trusted, experienced professional Realtor who can guide you though the buying and selling process.

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