The Record – First-time buyers key to housing


Joy Abma, 23, and Dan Charnesky, 24, expected to rent an apartment after their wedding this spring.

But when they looked at the high rents — and the difficulty of finding a place that would take their three dogs — they decided to try to buy a home instead. “We had been saving for a very long time, so we ended up with enough money for a down payment,” said Abma, a nurse who lives in Wyckoff.

After several months of looking, she and Charnesky, a landscaper, are to close on an Oakland split-level house this month. “We thought, ‘We might as well do it while we’re young,’ ” Abma said.

But buying a home when you’re young is more difficult than ever. Thanks to high student debt, stricter mortgage standards and years of slow employment and income growth, people in their 20s and 30s have found it tough to get their first toehold in homeownership — and that’s a problem for the whole real estate market. Without enough first-timers to jump-start a chain of purchases, homeowners can’t trade up to their second and third homes.

First-timers may return to the market in greater numbers this year, however, according to some analysts, who point to low interest rates, a stronger job market and high rents, all of which make buying more attractive.


Michael Kusnir, who grew up in New Milford and just bought a $295,000 condo at the M in Englewood, works in his family’s elevator-inspection business. He knows he was fortunate to have that job opportunity.

“I got lucky with my family company,” said Kusnir, 24, who is engaged to his high school sweetheart. “I know friends who just graduated college, they just can’t get a job.”

via Kathleen Lynn/The Record


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