Budget First, Buy Later

A new tool from Zillow might make buying a home easier

Buying that first house (or even the second) can be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming. Zillow, the online real estate giant, is doing its part to make the process of buying a home easier for young people. The company has launched a new site — RealEstate.com — which caters to millennials by streamlining the often complicated nuances associated with buying a home.

Among RealEstate.com’s many features is a detailed, step-by-step instruction section on how to buy a home. While the straightforward approach is refreshing, the real appeal of RealEstate.com is in its budgeting tool. Young people can log their budgets into the site and search only homes they can actually afford. The tool then calculates a home’s “All-In Monthly Price,” which includes everything from home owner’s insurance to property taxes. This is key to peace-of-mind, as a recent Zillow study found that going over budget was a primary concern for a majority of first-time home buyers. The same report found that — surprise — first-time buyers are more likely to bust their budgets buying a home than repeat buyers. “By tailoring the home search experience on RealEstate.com around a home’s monthly cost, we hope to make the home buying experience less daunting and even more transparent for first-time buyers,” Zillow Group CMO Jeremy Wacksman explained to Money, in a statement.

As everyone knows, the more information you have available when buying a house, the better. And if you can open your eyes even beyond the guidelines this new tool provides, you’ll be even better off in the months and years to come. Ask friends in your soon-to-be neighborhood to give you a peek into how much they pay for utilities, lawn care, garbage removal and the like. Then pay it forward by doing the same for the next friend to join the block party.

Chris O'Shea

Chris O'Shea