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Thurs­day, Septem­ber 14, 2017

Metro Canada (Halifax) - - SPECIAL REPORT: MORTGAGES - Camilla Cor­nell

DOL­LARS AND SENSE At 25, an age when many mil­len­ni­als haven’t yet landed their first ‘real’ job, Deanna Min­ervini bought a three-bed­room house in Hamil­ton. It has a fin­ished kitchen, park­ing for two and a view of the golf course and the es­carp­ment.

Min­ervini, now 27, didn’t rely on ‘The Bank of Mom and Dad’ to fund her down pay­ment when she bought two years ago. She came up with the $45,000 on her own, as a sin­gle woman just four years out of univer­sity. And she has been dili­gently pay­ing it off ever since.

Min­ervini’s ex­pe­ri­ence flies in the face of the re­cently re­leased Peak Mil­len­nial Sur­vey, from Royal Lepage which high­lights res­i­den­tial real es­tate trends af­fect­ing mil­len­ni­als be­tween the ages of 25 and 30. On the plus side, the re­port found On­tario has the great­est pro­por­tion of peak mil­len­nial re­spon­dents hop­ing to pur­chase prop­erty within the next five years (72 per cent).

And yet, roughly three-quar­ters (72 per cent) of those On­tario re­spon­dents said homes in their re­gion are not af­ford­able. That jibes with a re­cent re­search re­port from Theredpin bro­ker­age in­di­cat­ing it takes an an­nual in­come of $200,000 or more to man­age a mort­gage on a de­tached Toronto house and about $100,000 to buy a condo.

Min­ervini, how­ever, is quick to point out that she doesn’t make “any­where near” that money. “The good news,” says Phil Soper, CEO of Royal Lepage, “typ­i­cally when peo­ple put their mind to it and it be­comes a pri­or­ity, they usu­ally achieve the goal of home own­er­ship.”

Read on for five strate­gies that might ease the way. When it comes to sav­ing up a down pay­ment, it’s all about dis­ci­pline, says Min­ervini.

“I work by day as a psy­chol­o­gist and be­havioural ther­a­pist. And in the evenings, I teach at the gym,” she says. “That’s my play money if I want to go out for cof­fee or lunch. Plus, I get a free gym mem­ber­ship.” Side jobs help, she says, whether tak­ing a few shifts as a server, free­lanc­ing if you have a par­tic­u­lar skill or even par­tic­i­pat­ing in paid med­i­cal ex­per­i­ments. “They pay pretty well,” says Min­ervini.

Other tac­tics she uses to keep her costs down include pack­ing a lunch for work ev­ery day, cook­ing at home rather than fre­quent­ing restau­rants, col­lect­ing credit card points to be used toward travel and gro­ceries, and avoid­ing bars and other money-suck­ing venues.

“I’m re­ally reg­i­mented in that way,” she says. “I didn’t have to move in (with) my par­ents to save money, but I would have if I needed to. It just seems like such a waste to spend so much money on rent. Once you come up with a down pay­ment, it can ac­tu­ally be cheaper to own a house.” Sim­ply cross­ing the street can make a dif­fer­ence in pric­ing in some neigh­bour­hoods, says Soper. What’s more, al­though the me­dian price tag on a home in Toronto was $837,000 in Royal Lepage’s most re­cent quar­terly re­port, he points out, some GTA com­mu­ni­ties pro­vide par­tic­u­larly good value.

The me­dian price for a home in Oshawa, for ex­am­ple, was just $252,000; Cam­bridge rang in at $270,000 and (if such a long com­mute isn’t part of your home­own­ing dream) the me­dian price in Mis­sis­sauga was $338,000. Tellingly, roughly 61 per cent of the mil­len­ni­als sur­veyed by Royal Lepage said they would be will­ing to move to an­other city or sub­urb where prop­erty is more af­ford­able, if nec­es­sary. When Royal Lepage sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive Margie Mcneil walked into an older condo re­cently with one of her mil­len­nial clients, the woman al­most im­me­di­ately turned around and walked out.

“The condo was dark and packed with fur­ni­ture and toys, and it smelled bad,” says Mcneil. Yet, un­der­neath all that clut­ter, it was spa­cious, with the kind of square footage you wouldn’t nor­mally find in a new-build condo.

“We talked about its po­ten­tial,” says Mcneil. And af­ter the client viewed a few smaller units, “she wrapped her head around the idea of do­ing a bit of work. She bought the condo, painted it, gave the kitchen a facelift and re­placed the floor­ing. Now it looks amaz­ing.” “When you’re in univer­sity, it’s re­ally easy to just as­sume you have this huge debt and it’s go­ing to take for­ever to pay off, so what’s the dif­fer­ence if you spend a lit­tle bit of ex­tra money here and there,” Min­ervini says. “But you have to think ahead.”

She worked two and three part-time jobs while at school and was able to pay off her small stu­dent loan im­me­di­ately on grad­u­at­ing. She also avoided other debts and paid her credit card off on time re­li­giously.

And — on her dad’s ad­vice — she in­creased her credit limit when­ever the bank of­fered in or­der to build up her credit. That meant she had an ex­cel­lent credit rat­ing when it came time to take on a mort­gage. Al­though only about 35 per cent of peak mil­len­ni­als are al­ready home-own­ers, ac­cord­ing to Royal Lepage, by age 50 or so about 77 per cent of Cana­di­ans own a home.

“You’ll get there even­tu­ally,” says Soper. “It’s a myth that prop­er­ties aren’t avail­able and ac­ces­si­ble in the GTA.”

JON NI­CHOLLS

Deanna Min­ervini, 27, who bought a three-bed­room house in Hamil­ton says it’s all about dis­ci­pline when it comes to sav­ing for a down pay­ment.

JON NI­CHOLLS

Deanna Min­ervini.

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