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Moving home gives young homebuyers an easy way to save for a down payment

by Jason Porterfield

Returning to their childhood homes rather than renting could be the easiest way for younger homebuyers to save for a down payment in Chicago and other major metro areas, according to a report by Realtor.com.

The report shows how long it would take a prospective homebuyer who saves the amount they pay on rent to accumulate enough cash to make a 5% down payment, which was the national median in December. Realtor.com arrived at a timeframe for each of the 20 largest metropolitan areas by taking the median rent in each and factoring that amount in to the median price for a home there.

“Although many members of the Millennial [born between 1981 and 1996] and Gen Z [born in 1997 and onward] generations were forced to move home because they lost their jobs in 2020, others chose to forgo their rental because they had the opportunity to work remotely and preferred to wait out the pandemic with family,” said realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale. “For those who have been able to channel their would-be rent into savings, the pandemic’s silver lining could be becoming a homeowner sooner than they otherwise would have.”

For example, it  takes 11 months of saving $1,035 in rent to afford a down payment of $11,600 on a $232,000 home in St. Louis. Similarly, it takes 11 months of saving $1,495 in rent for a $16,350 down payment on a $327,000 home in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. statistical area.

At the opposite end of the scale, prospective homebuyers in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim statistical area would have to save their $2,250 monthly rent for 22 months to afford a $49,950 down payment on a home with a median listing price of $999,000. In the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area, it takes 21 months of saving $2,414 in rent per month to make a $49,750 down payment on home with a median price of $995,000.

The strategy works faster in  Chicago, where the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom was $1,521 and the median listing price was $327,000.  Millennials and Gen Z homebuyers there who save their rent money could have a $16,350 down payment together in 11 months.

Nationally, the median rent for one-bedroom apartment in December 2020 was $1,533 and the median home price was $340,000. It would take a prospective homebuyer 11 months to save $17,000 for a 5% down payment, according to realtor.com.

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