UNITED STATES—Homeownership is high on many people’s list of financial goals. Buying a home isn’t for everyone, but for many people, it is a smart financial choice. Rental markets often drive costs up, making a mortgage the more affordable option. As you build equity, your net worth increases. One common obstacle to homeownership is putting together a down payment. Coming up with 20 percent of the cost of a home is a challenge for many first-time buyers. If you think saving enough to buy a home is impossible, use some of the methods others have found to make their dream come true.
Review Your Budget
The first step when making any financial move is to carefully go over your budget and look for savings. If you are not currently budgeting, simply adding this step may be enough to uncover spending you can eliminate. Lowering your overall monthly expenses, and then dedicating that money to your down payment fund, will build your savings quickly. The key is to use a separate savings account earmarked for your house, rather than including it in your general savings. If you are looking for easy ways to lower your monthly expenses, consider refinancing your student loans. When you refinance, you will take out a new loan with a private lender. The interest rate and terms will vary, depending on the lender and your creditworthiness. Paying a lower interest rate on these loans will free up money each month to dedicate towards your down payment.
Clear Out Your Clutter
Once you buy a home, you will need to do a massive declutter before moving, so get a head start. Go from room to room, dig into your closets, and rummage through all your storage areas. Post your goods on local online marketplaces. Price your items competitively and you will be surprised at how quickly they move. Resist the temptation to treat yourself with this cash, instead, deposit it directly into your down payment savings account.
Borrow from Yourself
You can tap into the money in your retirement account to fund a home purchase. You are borrowing the money from yourself and will repay it just as you would any loan. The difference is, your payment, both principal and interest, are going back to your retirement account rather than to a lender. If you are young and have years to go before considering retirement, borrowing from your retirement account can make sense. Make sure you understand all of the conditions of the loan before making your decision. If you are laid off, fired, or resign, you may be required to pay off the balance of the loan immediately. However, for those with a stable job, this can be a smart option.
Look for Assistance
You don’t need to go through the home buying process on your own. There are federally-funded programs that provide down payment assistance, and many state and local groups have programs of their own as well. First-time home buyers and those buying in specific locations often qualify for assistance programs that bring homeownership within reach.