Save for Your Next Home With These 15 Steps
At the time of this writing, the millennial generation is currently $1.4 trillion deep in student loan debt. Couple that with the fact that the average home sells for nearly 10 times what they did in 1968, and you've got a nearly unreachable American dream of homeownership for the current crop of middle-aged adults.
But it's not impossible. If you want to own your own home, there are a few steps to take to give yourself the best chance of it happening.
1. Use Government Programs
If you're buying your first home, the federal government will allow you to take advantage of a loan from the Federal Housing Administration, which caps the interest rate at around 3%. For example, a $210,000 will only cost you a down payment of $6,300 - well within reach of most working millennials.
2. Enlist For Service
Joining the military has several perks, but one of them is the ability to obtain a V.A. loan which offers substantially better rates than traditional loans in gratitude for time served. In addition, the G.I. Bill can also help with expenses if you have money left from your time in school.
3. Ask for Your Inheritance
The prodigal son had one thing right: your parents most likely have money socked away for you after they pass from this life, but you'll have to ask for it. While they may not give you all of their estate, they may provide you with some financial assistance to get started.
4. Improve Your Credit Score
A higher credit score is indicative of financial responsibility, and banks will look at that to determine the risk/reward of giving you a loan in the first place. If you want to get the best loan at the cheapest rates, you'll need to do everything you can to get your credit score glow.
5. Get a Budget
This is good financial advice in general, but especially if you plan on buying a house. Sit down with all of your income and expenses and figure out exactly what size of home you can afford. You may be a few years off from your goal, or you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find out.
6. Move Out of Town
Real estate in urban and industrial areas is notoriously expensive, so if you want to get more home for your dollar, consider moving to smaller bedroom communities just outside of the city center. Suburbs offer a ton of advantages for a slightly longer commute, one of them being cheaper housing.
7. Look Into State Programs
FHA loans are great, but you should also take some time to check out the tax savings and incentives that your state offers as well. Some will even offer additional grants or subsidies to set down roots; check here to see if your state is one of them.
8. Get a Second Job
Along with the change in times is a change in the workplace, and it's easier than ever to start your own side business - one that you can even run from your living room. Look into freelancing, ride-sharing, or opening up your own online store.
9. Use Your Retirement
This goes against conventional financial advice, but if you have a Roth IRA or 401k that can be liquidated, it might be worth it to do so and put it towards a home. You'll have to check for any penalties or taxes first, as the downside may outweigh the reward.
10. Be Patient
Just because you can't afford a house today doesn't mean that you won't be able to tomorrow, so if you're stuck on a house that you love or are less than happy with your interest rate, be patient and it should change relatively soon.
11. Research
Don't be like the homeowners that simply jump at the first house that strikes your fancy; take some time and look at a bunch of different options first, both in terms of location and lenders. Doing a little bit of homework on the front end can save you a world of pain on the back.
12. Move Out of State
A large population in a state means more competition for housing; conversely, a lower population means less. If your state is overcrowded, consider moving to a different state to take advantage of favorable housing markets.
13. Keep It In Perspective
You don't have to get your dream home right away. You'll most likely own two or three homes before you get all the bells and whistles, so don't be afraid to step towards it.
14. Get Rid of Student Loans
That $1.4 trillion mentioned above? Chances are you've got a slice of that and it's most likely hurting your ability to save for a down payment. If so, focus on eliminating that and it'll be easier to work towards your goal.
15. Sacrifice
Let's face it: when you're saving for a house, you won't be able t afford all the luxuries that this life can afford. Skip a night out, buy a cheaper outfit, travel somewhere closer, but make a few sacrifices for the sake of your housing future and you'll see that new home sooner rather than later.