Think You Can’t Afford to Buy a House? 7 Ways to Put a Home Within Reach
Affordability is the main concern of most consumers looking to buy a house, according to recent surveys. And with home prices rising over 18% in the last year, it’s no wonder why.
If you’re hoping to buy a house in the near term, it likely has you feeling a bit discouraged. Will you ever be able to afford a house? Will you be stuck renting forever?
Fortunately, it’s not so cut-and-dry. While, yes, home prices are rising, there are actually a lot of ways to ease that burden and get your foot in the door of homeownership — regardless of your earnings or income.
Are you worried you can’t afford to buy a house? Here are seven ways to do so — even with today’s prices:
1. Consider a townhome or condo.
Single-family, detached homes cost a bit more than smaller, attached properties like townhomes and condos. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the typical condo came in at $297,900 in September, while single-family homes clocked in at $359,700 — over $60,000 more.
Not only does that lower price mean a smaller down payment, but it also means a lower monthly payment. Condos also come with lower property taxes and insurance costs in most cases, too.
2. Prioritize healthy credit.
A good credit score means a low mortgage rate, which can make affording a home much, much easier.
Typically, the best credit scores are reserved for borrowers with 740 scores or better. If your score’s not quite at that level, take some time to pay down your debts, settle any late or overdue payments, and pay your bills on time, every time.
3. Take on a side gig.
If you’re short on cash to buy a home, taking on a side hustle can help you raise the funds you need. This might mean driving for Uber or Lyft, working for apps like Favor or Instacart, or just doing some babysitting or house-sitting when you have time. You could also start an Etsy shop or find some other way to use your talents for extra earnings.
Just make sure you funnel all your additional cash into a savings account. Then, once you’re ready to buy a house, you can use it toward your down payment, closing costs, and other expenses.
4. Use a no-down mortgage loan.
You don’t need a huge down payment to buy a loan. In fact, some mortgage programs allow you to make no down payment at all, making it significantly easier to afford a home — even with little savings.
VA loans are one such example. These are loans for veterans, military members, and their spouses, and they require zero down payment and zero mortgage insurance.
If you’re not in the military, a USDA loan can be an option. These also require zero down, but can only be used in certain rural and suburban parts of the country. Use this map to see what areas are eligible in your community.
5. Use a down payment assistance program.
If you don’t qualify for a no-down loan, there are also down payment and closing cost assistance programs that can help. These sometimes cover part or even all of your upfront costs, and in some cases, may not need to be repaid.
Check with your local housing authority or state housing agency for details on what’s available in your area. Your real estate agent may be able to help as well.
6. See if you qualify for other assistance.
There are also other government programs that might be able to help, depending on your career and income level. Teachers, EMS workers, firefighters, and police officers, for example, can use the Good Neighbor Next Door Program, which offers discounted homes to public servants.
There are other options, too, but these vary by state, so check with your real estate agent or local housing department for guidance.
7. Consider a distressed property.
You can also look to distressed properties — foreclosures, short sales, or properties forfeited to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the IRS, the FDIC, and other government agencies. Individual banks have some properties for sale, too. These often come at a discount and aren’t available on the open market.
The first step to buy a house
If you’re ready to buy a house, make sure to get pre-approved first. This will help you better understand the costs of home buying, as well as set an appropriate budget for your search. Get in touch with an Embrace Home Loan office in your area to get started today.