More than 3 million families will buy their first home this year. It’s the largest group of first-time buyers since the end of World War II and the fastest growing segment are members of Generation Y.

Today’s 20 and 30somethings who are taking the plunge. That’s right, the Now generation is much more sophisticated about making this enormous investment. They’re using the internet and other resources to make smarter decisions about what to buy, where to live and how to pay for it.

“So this is a typical version of a two bedroom, two bath 1250 square feet,” says Kimberly says.

Buying a first home can be exciting.

“As soon as I walk in, I immediately try to picture us here. I try to picture it as a home. Can I picture myself living here?” Kimberly says.

Kimberly and Frederico will be closing on this place in a few hours.

“It makes me a little nervous because I’ve never been in such debt,” Frederico says.

With 30-year mortgage rates staying below 6 percent, first-time buyers are keeping real estate agents hopping.

“They’re coming in with these great interest rates and banks and lending institutions are putting together programs for first-time buyers and that’s just increasing the number of buyers faster than we can keep up with it,: says Thad Wong, of

But just because the first-time market is moving fast doesn’t mean you should jump in before you’re ready. Take the time to learn about what property is really worth by searching properties for sale on the internet and visiting open houses.

“Get a good understanding of the marketplace and narrow it down to a neighborhood in which you feel comfortable,” Thad says.

It’s tempting to buy a great place, just don’t overspend.

You don’t want to wind up house poor, watching your hard-earned cash going down the drain and not being able to afford the rest of your life.

“Back in September, we checked a lot of places. And they were two points more, so we could afford a different area or less square footage and here we could afford 1300 SF, 2 bedroom apartment for basically the same monthly mortgage payment,” Frederico says.

This is a signature affidavit. It basically says you are who you say you are. When you get to the closing, come with a cashiers check and your favorite pen. And get ready to enjoy your newest title and tax deduction: homeowner.

Educate yourself and don’t wait forever. As an investment, real estate values in Chicago have beaten the stock market hands down over the past five years. If you haven’t bought your first home, you couldn’t pick a better time.


Oct. 17, 2003.