Buying a house has several distinct advantages over renting. You’ll get more control and freedom, with no supervisory agent telling you what you can and can’t do with the property. You’ll likely have more space, and more investment in your neighborhood. And of course, you’ll be building equity with your monthly payments, increasing your personal wealth over time, rather than simply paying money to a landlord.
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However, not everyone can afford to buy a house—at least not right away. You might have a low credit score that prevents you from qualifying for a big enough mortgage. You might be struggling with a down payment. Or the houses in your area might simply be too expensive for an average person to buy.
If you find you can’t buy a house for one reason or another, but you still want one, there are several options you can try.
Improving Home Affordability
These options could help you find a house you can reasonably afford, or put yourself in a better position to buy one:
1. Work with a buying agent
First, consider working with a homebuying agent. These real estate agents specialize in helping homebuyers find the perfect home for their budget and personal needs—and the seller is typically responsible for paying their fees, so there’s no cost to you.
A buying agent will have much more experience with your local real estate market, and will be able to help you consider a wider range of options. They may have recommendations for finding a more affordable home, or may be able to help you calculate what you can truly afford.
2. Look for homes in a cheaper area
Housing markets vary wildly from one area to another. Just because you can’t afford a home in a hip urban area doesn’t mean you can’t afford one in the rural outskirts. If you have the flexibility to consider multiple different locations, look for a home in a cheaper area.
If your job and family dynamics allow, consider moving to a different metropolitan area or state altogether; you might be surprised at how low the cost of living is elsewhere in this country.
3. Consider auctions and foreclosures
You can often find great deals on homes if you know where to look. In the event of a home foreclosure, the bank seizes ownership of the house, and typically tries to sell it as quickly as possible—even if it’s at a loss. This is your opportunity to pick up a quick deal; just be wary that some foreclosed homes might be damaged or otherwise in poor condition.
Similarly, you can visit estate auctions to find good deals on properties.
4. Look for a roommate
If you’re considering moving into a house with a spouse, you’ll already have a roommate. But even then, you might consider looking for a roommate. Sharing the house space with someone else can instantly cut your monthly expenses, and relieve some of the financial burden of homeownership.
You could also look to buy a duplex or similar housing structure; that way, you’ll have a stream of income to help compensate you.
5. Put together a debt reduction plan
Many people are held back from homeownership because they have lots of existing debt. You can reduce your monthly payments here with a thorough debt reduction plan.
Start by organizing your debt, and combining it (if appropriate) to reduce the interest you’re paying. Then, make paying off your debt your top priority, funneling all your extra money to this purpose. This will also help your credit score, which can help you qualify for better home loans.
6. Set a tight budget and save money monthly
Whether you’re working on reducing your debt or not, it’s important to set a strict monthly budget. Account for all your income, track every expense, and start looking for ways to make cuts. Ideally, you’ll have extra money every month you can put toward your down payment.
7. Pick up a second stream of revenue
If the above strategies still aren’t working, consider picking up a secondary stream of income. You can try a side gig like making crafts, babysitting, dog walking, or ridesharing to generate a few hundred dollars a month. It may not seem like much, but it adds up.
Finding Your Path
Even with these options, there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll find a house to buy that works for you—but you’ll get much closer to achieving your goals this way. Do a thorough evaluation of your current finances, and analyze what’s really holding you back. From there, you should be able to come up with a plan to maximize your chances of getting in a house in the near future.
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