Feeling better about the housing market?

A couple of interesting stories popped up last week suggesting both hope and despair about the housing markets. The positive: Twin Cities home sales appear to be moving off the bottom. The negative: Young adults nationally seem increasingly unwilling or unable to buy a home.

We decided to cast a wider net, asking Minnesotans in the MPR News Public Insight Network to share some thoughts about the housing market in their towns and neighborhoods. What are they seeing? Are there concerns about young people buying homes?

Click on the map icons below to read what others told us, then add your voice.

View Feeling better about the housing market? in a full screen map

Carlos Gutierrez is a mortgage broker in Plymouth who sees home sales on the upswing but adds that his 28-year old son “does note see a reason to buy a home at this time.”

Kari Denissen Cunnien wrotes us that she was in early 30s, married and with a toddler but that she and her husband were still renting while lots of their friends bought homes.

Cunnien’s husband is in grad school and although they have income through her job and would love to buy a house, “we could not afford the added expenses on top of a mortgage. The garbage pick-up, water, taxes and responsibility to replace the roof or water heater.

“We are of the generation with huge student loan debt and now a large daycare bill,” she adds. “It’s just not in the cards.”

  • Cara

    My 23 year old daughter and her boyfriend just purchased a foreclosure for an extraordinarily low price but wouldn’t have been able to without parental help. I think that’s far from usual for young adults now.

  • rob

    “We are of the generation with huge student loan debt and now a large daycare bill,” she adds. “It’s just not in the cards.”

    Now THAT’S a story. My daycare bill is a mortgage payment. My student loan payment is a mortgage payment. My wife’s student loan payment is another one. Who can save to buy a house anymore?

  • jon

    Emotional responses to a logic problem = Finances.

    Paying rent will never get you any money back.

    Paying a mortgage will get you money back at some point in the future when you sell your house.

    You may not turn a profit living in your house but you won’t get the 100% loss that renting will get you.

  • Chris N.

    @jon: I didn’t get the impression that they were not buying a house because they couldn’t turn a profit on it. I think they’re not buying because they can’t afford a mortgage payment + taxes + insurance + maintenance costs on a house they would want to live in. If you can’t afford it then the wiser course seems to be not to buy.

    You can also see on this NY Times rent vs buy calculator [http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html] that it’s not always a clear-cut loss to rent. The only problem with that calculator is that it asks you to make assumptions on how the housing market and renting markets will do in the future, which right now is particularly difficult if not impossible.

  • Conner

    On the other hand, no renter is currently trying to figure out how to get out of their home without taking a loss. So you could make the same argument as a reason to rent.

    Renting and buying both have positives and negatives. It’s up to the individual to make that decision. Both have value and can be the best decision for an individual or a family of 4.

  • Kat S.

    Like Rob, between daycare payments and student loans and one person unemployed, we’re not able to save up enough to put a down-payment on a house.

    With the crash of the housing bubble and the economy, it’s become a lot harder to buy a house with anything other than perfect credit and a substantial down-payment. There are upsides to that– we won’t be buying a house we can’t afford– and downsides– we won’t be buying a house at all for the foreseeable future.

    Meanwhile, we rent in a neighborhood we love but could never afford to buy in, with all our utilities and repairs paid. We may not get that money “back,” but we’re satisfied with what we’re receiving in return for our rent money. We just don’t have house-buying urgency at the moment. Ask me again when we have two stable jobs and two children, instead of one of each.

  • Hillary

    I truly don’t understand how families can make it these days. I’m single and live alone, and do pretty well financially. Over the last couple years, around median household income for the state resulted in an older car, a smallish apartment (fine for one, not so much for more), and slow savings growth after I paid my student loans. It wouldn’t have been possible to add day care, another car, and more food & health insurance and come out in the black.

    That said, I’m feeling personally optimistic about the housing market. I’m buying in the next couple months. I’m fairly confident that my particular market segment has bottomed, and if it hasn’t I’m ok with the potential loss.

  • christie

    It’s not just first-time buyers who are hesitant. My family (two jobs, three kids, one car payment and one set of endless student loans) is about $20,000 underwater on the house we bought in 2002. We would have to save that much PLUS downpayment in order to move… so, as much as we don’t really think our current house is big enough for us and our growing children, we are staying put for now. We are stuck, to tell the truth.

    It is a great time, IMO, to buy a first house and plan to stay in it for a while.