For Boston-area homeowners, value goes beyond dollars and cents

Boston homeowners are increasingly investing in their homes, as 78 percent look for ways to make it more valuable, and 59 percent spend a lot of free time working on their home.

Still, fewer than one in four experienced buyers in the Boston area say a home’s true value is determined by how much it cost to purchase, according to the second annual Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report. This is fewer than homeowners nationally (33 percent) and any of the 10 markets surveyed.

The report, a study exploring homebuying perceptions and behaviors among adult consumers, also found that amid rising rental rates across the country, 75 percent of Boston-area homebuyers believe owning is more affordable than renting. In fact, current Boston owners were most likely to have purchased their first home because they thought money spent on rent would be better invested toward a mortgage (56 percent).

Boston-specific highlights from the report include:

Experienced Boston buyers see financial and emotional benefits of homeownership

  • Current owners in Boston (85 percent) overwhelmingly say homeownership has a positive impact on their long-term financial picture.
  • When asked how to best describe their current home, Bostonians are split: 35 percent say it reflects their personality, which is higher than any market surveyed, and 34 percent say it is a financial investment.
  • Beyond financial value, experienced local buyers see clear emotional benefits of homeownership, as nearly all are proud of owning their home (92 percent) and treasure the memories they have made (90 percent).

Aspiring Boston homeowners are planning ahead

  • Although they are juggling a variety of financial responsibilities, including paying off debts and bills (49 percent), improving credit scores (42 percent) and paying off student loans (30 percent), more than one-third of prospective buyers in Boston say saving for a home is a major priority.
  • Twenty-seven percent of local first-time buyers say they have started to plan for a down payment. Nearly two in five think they would qualify for a down payment assistance program, and 56 percent say they would take advantage of these programs.

Motivations to purchase among Boston homeowners

  • When making the decision to buy their first home, prospective homeowners are motivated by having the financial means to purchase (65 percent) and thinking money spent on rent would be better invested toward a mortgage (47 percent).
  • In line with the aspiring homeowners in their area, current Boston owners bought their first home because they thought money spent on rent would be better invested toward a mortgage (56 percent) and they had the financial means to purchase (48 percent).

Boston owners reflect on their homebuying experience

  • The most common steps Boston owners took when starting the homebuying process were engaging a real estate professional (57 percent), setting a budget (41 percent) and getting prequalified (41 percent).
  • In looking back at their homebuying experience, current Boston homeowners’ advice includes: start saving for a home early (55 percent), consider the maintenance costs and unexpected expenses (45 percent), and create and stick to a budget (34 percent).

View the complete 2017 Homebuyer Insights Report here.


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