D.C. tops list for first-time homebuyers

WASHINGTON (NewsChannel 8) – Despite rising housing costs, first-time homebuyers are investing in real estate in D.C., according to a recent report.

Housing is expensive in the District; just ask Chris Stergalas, who moved to the nation’s capital from Michigan.

"It just hurts so much when you kind of add up what you’re paying in rent every month, and then to see that you get nothing in return for it," Stergalas said.

So, last fall, Chris and his partner, Gabe, invested their savings into a home in the Trinidad neighborhood in D.C.

"We moved to a neighborhood with a house that needed a little bit more work, so that we could afford it," said Stergalas.

First-time homebuyers are making up a big chunk of those taking out mortgages, especially in D.C.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's latest brief, 68 percent of homebuyers were first-timers in 2013.

Realtor Harrison Beacher says he helps many get their first home.

“To rent in any of the popular neighborhoods, you gotta pay an arm and a leg,” Beacher said. “Most people are looking at it, doing the math, saying, ‘If I’m going to be here three to five years, it really makes sense.’”

However, prices continue to go up; they have risen 324 percent in D.C. since 1996, according to the FHFA report.

Beacher says there are incentives, like down payment assistance, for first-time buyers and reduced property tax exemptions in D.C. Even he recently purchased his first home in Northeast D.C.

"For my fiance and I, we wanted a place with a yard for our dog, and a park and all that stuff,” Beacher said. “It’s here in D.C., if you can think outside of the places you walk by or go out to every weekend.”

Beacher expects prices to keep rising, but thinks first-time buyers will continue to want to make a home their next investment.

Maryland also ranked high for first-time homebuyers at 63 percent. In Virginia, the report showed that first-time buyers only made up 57 percent of those taking out home loans.

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