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Continued: Fewer single people are buying their own home

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 25, 2013 - 12:49 PM

Earlier this year, he had set his sights on buying a house near his office in Golden Valley, but he quickly suspended his search when he realized that a quick profit wasn’t guaranteed if he lost his job or was relocated.

For now, he’s preserving his flexibility by staying in the North St. Paul house he’s renting with friends.

“What happens if I’m sick of winter and want to move to San Francisco and I don’t want to have this place?” he said. “How will I get rid of it? What’s the best way I can make this an easy transition if I have to leave?”

Return to lending standards

Keenan Raverty, vice president of Bell Mortgage and chairman of the Minnesota Mortgage Association, said this shift is simply a necessary return to more prudent lending standards.

“Our industry is tightening credit, but not at an alarming rate — we’re just going back to traditional underwriting standards,” he said.

Real estate agents are doing their best to reverse the trend.

Pamela Benbow, a sales agent with Coldwell Banker Burnet, said she recently worked with a low-income single mom who tried unsuccessfully three times to qualify for an inexpensive house.

A deal came together only after she applied for a mortgage through US Bank’s American Dream Program, which is geared toward people who can’t qualify under today’s more stringent underwriting guidelines. Even then, the seller had to reduce the price of the home to help the woman qualify.

“The seller called it ‘pay it forward’ as she was a single mom at one time,” Benbow said.

Meath, the 28-year-old computer software expert, doesn’t have that same determination to buy a house at any cost.

He’s taking a go-slow approach and is trying to take advantage of the situation to re-establish ties to his family after living and working in Chicago for three years.

“I’m content living with my parents,” he said. “I don’t have to pay rent, and that’s a bonus.”

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376

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