Student loan debt sidelining your homeownership dreams? These programs may help.

When it comes to consumer debt, student loans rank at the top. In recent years, student loan debt grew much faster than any other category.

In fact, a study by the National Association of Realtors and the nonprofit America Student Assistance agency found that student loan debt is delaying homeownership for millennials by an estimated seven years. The debt cuts into buyers’ ability to save for a down payment — still the number one obstacle to homeownership. Plus, more than half surveyed said their debt-to-income ratio is preventing them from qualifying for a mortgage.

Is your student loan debt keeping you on the sidelines?

But, there’s some good news. Innovative companies and state agencies are developing homeownership programs to help buyers who have a solid income to pay a mortgage, but are weighed down by student debt. These programs are helping areas recruit and retain college grads while giving them a leg up to purchase a home. keep reading

Agents: Serve first-time homebuyers well and everyone wins

Kris Rosser Schmitt, Illinois based agent and managing broker at the Barbier Agency, has fueled her business with first-time homebuyers since 2001. Why?

“As agents, we are psychologists who sell houses. And first-time homebuyers are your best referral strategy…if you do it right. You are going to hand hold and educate more, but the ROI [return on investment] is huge. When you build trust with first-time homebuyers, you’ll gain stronger, more motivated leads,” said Kris.

Kris puts the focus on serving her first-time buyers well and they do the rest. Kris said her successful first-time homebuyers will give her 5 -10 leads in the next 12 to 18 months. They actively share all the details about their home buying experience with their friends and family.

“We [agents] are relationship based people. That’s how we sell,” said Kris. keep reading

FHA: Affordable or Not?

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you’ve likely heard of an FHA loan. Why do so many first-timers flock to FHA?

These loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, can be a great fit for new buyers because they allow low down payments (3.5%), good long-term interest rates and flexible qualifications. However, these affordable loans also include premiums (loan fees) and mortgage insurance for your lender to manage the risk on the loan. It protects your lender in case you default on your loan. keep reading