Final Profile

Salt Lake City, UT – Buying a home is the goal of many young couples and individuals but the recent financial crisis that was spurred by issues within the housing industry has made it a challenge for first time home buyers to get into a home.
Housing prices themselves are at a historical low having dropped around 30 percent in Utah since 2009 making it a great market to buy the house of your dreams. Besides housing prices being historically low, interest rates are also very low in Utah and are hovering around 3 to 4 percent. The numbers support that it is a buyers’ market and that first time home buyers should be able to get a very good price on a decent home.
“This is not the case,” says ShirLee McGarry, a 20 year veteran Realtor who specializes in helping first time home buyers. Because of the collapse of the sub-prime housing market in 2009 and the subsequent multibillion dollar bailout by the United States government more stringent regulations for lenders have been instituted.
The new regulations came with much stricter punishment of lenders and more protection for consumers but also make lenders more cautious in whom they will lend money to. “As recent as 2009 many first time home buyers were able to get into homes beyond their affordability because of the sub-prime laws that allowed lenders to lend money to these sub-prime borrowers,” McGarry explained to a small group of hopeful first time homebuyers.
This is no longer the case so these first time homebuyers are not allowed to capitalize on the great market situation for buyers. One of the individuals sitting in the group candidly expressed her concern that by the time she will actually be able to qualify for a home, the market may no longer be favorable. “I have been told by multiple lenders that despite having perfect credit, my fiancé and I do not have enough credit history to buy a home,” said Laura Kamper, a recent college graduate who has had a stable job for three years.
McGarry addressed Kamper’s concerns and admits that her case is not unique. As recent as 2009 Laura and her fiancé would have been able to qualify for a loan based off their credit history and how much they make. The new regulations though emphasize having a history of consistently paying off some kind of larger balance. As McGarry explains to the group, this could include rent, multiple credit cards, multiple car loans or other decent sized loan amounts.
Kamper explains that it is very frustrating having to wait on their plans to purchase a home, that based off their salaries they can more than easily afford. Instead they have to push back their plans a couple of months and have decided to rent an apartment with another friend until they can qualify on their own.
Adam Johnson is in a very similar situation as Kamper except that he is on both sides of the issue. He is presently working on his real estate license, is a recent college graduate, just bought his first home and works as a junior loan office at a local lender. “Being someone who works in the industry and having just gone through the process of buying my first home, I understand how frustrating it is,” Johnson said.
But he also explains there are many resources out there like McGarry who are there to help first time home buyers and many of those resources are free. “Not many people realize that Realtors are paid by the seller and so work for free with buyers,” Johnson says and explains that it is to the benefit of any buyer to use their services. It is already difficult buying a home for the first time having never experienced it before and so the services provided by McGarry really help simplify the process as much as possible.
The biggest problem Johnson says is that most first time home buyers are not going to be classified as prime buyers and so they fall under that sub-prime rating that is now being more strictly regulated. This would require most first time homebuyers to have a co-signer or some other financial help that they might not have.
Johnson also brings up some regulations that have been being considered but have not passed which would require any homebuyer to have a 20 percent down payment. The demographics of most first time home buyers show that for the most part none will have the ability to pay that 20 percent.
“It is difficult for first time home buyers now but it is all done in the purpose of protecting them from getting into loans they can’t afford,” Johnson said. McGarry shared the same sentiment to the group of hopeful homebuyers who all are now taking the proper steps to become qualified.

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