Editor's note: With rents hitting historic highs, and in many metros surpassing them, the share of Americans who wish to achieve homeownership is rising year-over-year. Our friends at Trulia share insight on the dream of owning a home — and how to achieve it in Austin.
The number of Americans who dream of owning a home one day is up to 75 percent, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll and Trulia. Within the millennial category, 80 percent of young people imagine owning their own home at some point. These statistics show that the American dream, which steadily declined after the housing market crash and recession of late 2008, is alive and well across all age groups.
In a recent study, Trulia ranked Austin the third best market to watch in 2016 based on five metrics: high job growth over the past year, affordability rates, large number of inbound home searches, high percentage of millennials, and low vacancy rates. Austin stole the third spot, behind the Grand Rapids, Michigan and Charleston, South Carolina, primarily due to a high share of millennial residents and the healthy job market.
Austin is continuously ranked one of the top cities for job growth, real estate investments, and overall quality of life for residents. So it's no surprise that millennials and first-time homebuyers consider Austin when determining where to settle down.
What Americans want in a home
Choosing a stable, growing market is arguably the most important aspect of securing a home’s value, as interiors and exteriors can be altered with renovations and upgrades over time. But, to fulfill your dream of homeownership, you need to have some idea of what your new home is going to look like, or at least the bare minimum must-haves to check off your list.
Keep in mind that only 35 percent of homeowners have already purchased their “dream homes.” Every property is not going to fit your wants and needs perfectly, and over time your home will need to be altered, or you’ll have to move to adapt to your lifestyle.
If you aren’t sure of your home specs, you’re not alone, especially if this is your first time buying real estate. According to Trulia’s American Dream Home study, most people prefer dwellings between 1,401 and 2,600 square feet over sprawling mansions or trending tiny homes. And 29 percent of millennials don't yet know how big their dream home should be.
How to find your dream home in Austin on a budget
Like any other real estate market, Austin offers high- and low-priced neighborhoods, so being selective is key when searching on a budget. First, consider location versus quality of home. Typically, home buyers searching in less popular, trendy, or accessible neighborhoods can stretch their dollar further — think updated kitchens, wood floors, and maintained lawns, depending on down payment size.
If you need to be in the center of town, within walking distance to hip restaurants, bus lines, and bustling nightlife, you’ll end up spending most of your money on location and less on interior upgrades. Aesthetics, however, can be modified, while property placement cannot. In the future, you can make renovations to your property, customized with personalized touches for a true “dream home” experience.
A neighborhood worth mentioning in Austin is University Hills in East Austin, a diverse, up-and-coming community with reasonable home prices. Given its increased popularity over the past few years, home values are quickly on the rise. While this is positive for current property owners, new buyers are wise to enter the market soon if they are interested in a rapidly growing market.
Also check out Rosedale if you’re moving to or within Austin. Located in Central Austin, the median age of residents in Rosedale is 37, and 83 percent are college educated, making this little spot an eye-catching and appealing opportunity for first-time buyers. Median homes values are somewhat high given the location, but searching on a budget is possible with patience.
You might still be renting, but planning and visualizing your dream home could be the motivation to start saving for a down payment. Overall, selecting an up-and-coming market is the first step toward securing your investment. Then, you can start your search in Austin — or wherever your dream takes you.