'I have broken down sometimes': Mortgage rates increase making it difficult for local first-time home buyers

Posted at 10:18 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-16 05:54:27-04

If you're a home buyer hoping for a break on home sale prices amid rising mortgage rates, it's likely not happening this year. News 3 caught up with a realtor in Hampton Roads and a potential home buyer who said you have to be very competitive.

The housing market has been unforgiving for first time home buyers like Margarita Gardner. With higher interest rates and her constantly being outbid - it was a constant struggle.

"I have broken down sometimes, and my realtor would just say 'It's going to be OK, we're going to get through this,'" Gardner said.

What usually is a happy time searching for your first home became very stressful for Gardner.

"I'm practically in tears, because it's just taking a long time. Then the competition, there's a low quality of homes," Gardner said.

It took Gardner 6 months to purchase her first home after renting for a majority of her life. But like many other buyers, she experienced surging prices and bidding wars due to strong demand and a lack of available homes.

"I need a home with a first-floor bedroom. It's not a lot of them out there at this time, and this is not a good buying market. I've gotten discouraged and I just thought about taking a break," Gardner said.

As inflation continues to rise, aspiring homeowners now a face a new challenge: rising interest rates, now at 5%.

According to realtor Barry Jenkins, when interest rates go up to 5 or 6%, you're probably going to be looking at $2,200 to $2,400 a month.

Jenkins said the average listed home price in Hampton Roads reached a record high of $405,000 just last month. As people's dollars are stretched thin because of inflation, Gardner said searching for a home can be hard to afford.

"To win I had to do things that I really didn't think I should do, but I had to do things to come out with more money," Gardner said.

"My best advice for someone to buy right now is to have a open conversation with your agent and your mortgage loan officer. The truth of the matter is the data is clear," Jenkins said.

When it comes to owning versus renting, News 3 asked Jenkins is it smart right now to buy? Or should people just rent?

"When you're renting, there's a landlord that's profiting off of your monthly rent, so by definition it's always going to be more," Jenkins said.

"I've been renting for a very long time, for too long. It was time to buy," Gardner said.

According to realtors, as of now they do not see the housing market rates and interest rates decreasing any time soon.

When it comes to renting, the number of people renting has increased 20% across Hampton Roads. Realtors said for families looking to buy a home, there's a program through the Virginia Housing Authority where you can buy with no money down, giving people an opportunity to buy while connecting with a lender that offers that government program.