How These Three 20-Somethings Bought a Home in Brooklyn

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    Between school debt, the job market, and an expensive housing situation in New York City, purchasing a home in Brooklyn can seem out of reach for many 20-something Brooklynites.

    However, just because the process can be difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We spoke with three Brooklyn residents who managed to buy a place in their 20s, and they shared their stories and strategies.

    home buying tips brooklyn millenials

    Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Mary Hautman

    Name: Greg
    Neighborhood: Kensington
    Occupation: Sales
    Home Price: $180,000
    Percent Down: 20
    Strategy: Saved

    Greg, who bought his studio in Kensington at age 27, prioritized buying a home and kept a separate account for the purchase.

    “At the time, buying was my number-one priority, and I had an account called my ‘First Home Fund,'” he said. “In terms of advice for others, I’d keep an open mind for geography and would also consider how much space you’ll need, especially if you’re not getting the entirety of the down payment from the Bank of Mom and Dad.”

    Greg found a place he liked relatively quickly, and after that the process was pretty typical for a co-op.

    “I put an offer in on the third place I saw. Once I actively started seeing places, from beginning to end, everything took about three months,” he explained. He saved the 20 percent he needed for the down payment himself, and his father cosigned the mortgage loan since Greg’s three-year work history was a little on the light side.

    Greg’s occupation — real estate at the time — also helped him figure out how the process worked.

    “I’d been working in real estate for about a year at that point, and I’d been learning about the whole process and looking at apartments all day for about that time. Ultimately though, it was open houses on the weekend that helped narrow things down.”

    home buying tips brooklyn millenials

    Photo by Mary Hautman

    Name: Alicia
    Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
    Occupation: Content Marketing
    Home Price: $565,000
    Percent Down: 47 percent
    Strategy: Split the down payment with a relative

    Alicia, who bought a one-bedroom apartment in Boerum Hill at age 29, echoed Greg’s sentiments, but also added that a bit of minimalism in spending can be helpful.

    “My advice would be to implement a budgeting system (e.g., Mint or old-school spreadsheets) and cut down on ordering Seamless, going out, and taking trips. Just make as many small adjustments as you can in life to save money,” she said.

    Alicia split the down payment, nearly half the total price of the home, with her mother, although she makes the monthly payments on the mortgage herself. While splitting the down payment was a major help, she acknowledged, she suggested looking at places within a given budget.

    “My mom and I worked out a system for me to take on the monthly mortgage payments, but I highly recommend a way to find an apartment within your price range, as there’s a lot of inventory out there,” she said.

    Her process was a bit longer than Greg’s: From beginning to end when she closed on her current home, the home buying process took seven months.

    home buying tips brooklyn millenials

    Bushwick. Photo by Mary Hautman

    Name: Pam
    Neighborhood: Bushwick
    Occupation: Finance
    Home Price: $190,000
    Percent Down: 20
    Strategy: Saved

    Pam, who bought a townhouse in Bushwick when she was 27, said a commitment to saving a given amount of money each month was key for her when purchasing.

    “I saved between $500 and $800 out of my monthly pay each month. My husband did the same,” she said.

    Pam said patience is key in the process of buying a home in Brooklyn.

    “It’s going to take way longer than you think to find something you like, especially if you’re looking to buy a place that’s below market rate. I searched for two years before we found our place. Don’t get discouraged and don’t be in a rush,” she said.

    Pam, who put down 20 percent, also said those looking to buy should give themselves some flexibility while trying to save for a home, and that the length of the process can bring big rewards in the long term.

    “It’s going to feel hard to save diligently for that long, which is why I gave myself a range to save — if you give yourself a low and high number for savings, that will give you the flexibility to let life happen while you’re saving for this big goal.”

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