Jul 13, 2023 - News

You’ll need to save for nearly a decade to make a down payment in North Carolina

It’ll take North Carolinians 9.3 years to save up for a 10% down payment on the typical home, Zillow data show.

That accounts for saving 5% of the median household income every month.

Why it matters: A combination of increased home prices, high interest rates and low inventory has created affordability challenges for those looking to buy in Charlotte, says real estate agent Jeff Clay, owner of JClay Realty Group in Charlotte.

  • “The pool of first-time homebuyers that can truly participate in this market is a lot smaller now than it was two to three years ago,” Clay says.

By the numbers: In Charlotte, the length of time to save for a 10% downpayment is 9.6 years, per Zillow.

  • The U.S. average is 8.9 years, with states like Iowa as low as 5.2 years and Hawaii as high as 18.4.

What’s more, on average, new homeowners in Charlotte will need to spend over 40% of their household income to afford monthly payments on a 10% down payment, according to Zillow.

  • Zillow took into account Charlotte’s average home price ($373,000) and its area median household income ($78,000).
Data: Zillow Economic Research; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios

Between the lines: The share of first-time buyers in the U.S. has shrunk to a record low as inventory and affordability issues persist, according to the National Association of Realtors.

  • First-timers are also waiting longer to buy; the median first-time buyer age jumped from 33 to 36 from 2021 to 2022, the latest data shows.
  • The majority of Americans believe it’s the worst time ever to buy a house, Axios’ Emily Peck writes.

What they’re saying: Patience and compromise are key for first-timers, Clay says. “You have to be very patient to try to find something that you think is going to work for you.”

  • He adds that most homeowners aren’t finding a place that checks every box on their first try. “For the market that we’re in right now, most first-time homebuyers are not buying their dream home.”

The big picture: Saving enough for a down payment is the biggest barrier to entry, says Brandi Snowden, a director at the National Association of Realtors. Many would-be-buyers are saddled with debt, including student loans, car loans and credit card debt.

Yes, but: That downpayment doesn’t need to be as high as 10%, Clay says. “There’s often a misconception of how much of a downpayment you actually need to have.”

Zoom in: While a higher downpayment may lower your monthly mortgage, Clay says most Charlotte buyers he works with are securing homes with a downpayment of 3%-5%. “Right now, most people are not not waiting until they have 10% or 20% down to get in the game.”

[Go deeper: Homebuyers are putting less money down now, as bidding wars fade]

The bottom line: Many are feeling the sting of being a first time buyer right now — both in North Carolina and across the country. But with realistic expectations, persistence and a smaller downpayment, you likely won’t need a decade to break into the market.


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