December 17, 2015

No place like (their first) home for the holidays

With help from Home Lending, a millennial couple in Seattle completed the trek to home ownership in time to celebrate the 2015 holidays together — from their new home.

Holiday decorations have adorned the Seattle home of first-time homebuyers Corbin Busby and Matthew O’Connor since early November. Stockings are hung, the tree is trimmed, and a steady aroma of cookies has filled the air.


They are reaping the rewards of a long trek that led to finding and buying their first home together.

“This is a really special time in our lives, a new beginning,” says Corbin, a teaching coach who works for an educational nonprofit organization. “This is the first time we’re hosting our parents instead of going to their houses for Christmas. And as a couple about to get married, it’s just exciting to start our own traditions.”

Corbin and Matthew, both 28, are millennials — the housing market’s present and future lifeblood. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. at 75 million, and nearly 70 percent of first-time homebuyers are millennials, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Though a majority of millennials want to buy a home, many are delaying that purchase, often due to some commonly held misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home, says Michael DeVito, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending Production. For example, consumers often think they need a much higher down payment and credit score than they actually need for homeownership.

“There are many misperceptions about what it takes to buy a home,” he says. “These perceived barriers indicate that we have a great opportunity to better educate homebuyers.”

More than 45 million Millennials will reach the average age for first-time homebuying over the next decade.

Michael notes that millennial homebuyers especially present a great opportunity for Wells Fargo to educate more of its customers about how to achieve their financial goals.

“There is a huge wave of potential first-time homeowners on the horizon,” he says, “with more than 45 million millennials potentially buying their first home in the next 10 years.”

Making a difference

For Corbin and Matthew, the help and expertise of Wells Fargo Mortgage Consultant Jessica Andrew helped make a big difference in their homebuying process, they say.

“We had a vision of what we wanted, but we also were naive about all the things that go into searching for and buying a home,” says Matthew, a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher in Seattle’s public schools. “Jessica was such a rock throughout the entire process and made all the things we didn’t know about really accessible in ways that made sense to us as first-time homebuyers.”

He adds that in addition to the basics of credit and home finance, Jessica helped the couple navigate the competitive bidding process, affordability challenges in the Seattle market, appraisal issues, permitting delays, and their disappointment of losing bids for two previous homes.

More Millennials and current renters say they understand the financial process of homebuying.

“Buying a house is incredibly emotional,” Jessica says. “Yes, I’m there as a lender, but I wear other hats, too. Often I’ll be on the phone with people at 9 or 10 o’clock at night just reassuring them that everything is OK. That’s something I tell all of my buyers and really drive home with first-time homebuyers — that I’m available and I’m there for them.”

Jessica says Corbin and Matthew are millennial role models, having set a budget, lived within their means, and stockpiled savings to make their homeownership dream come true.

“They were simply amazing clients,” Jessica says. “I went to their closing, and we all cried a bit when the papers were signed. It’s nice to have a transaction end and feel like you’ll still have a real relationship with the homebuyers.”

With 75 million people, Millennials are the largest generation