Spring has sprung, and home shopping couldn’t be hotter.
Don’t let the daunting prospect of a down payment scare you from joining all the other potential first-timers exploring the housing market.
First of all, there are many options, even if you haven’t saved the standard 20 percent.
Many government and private organizations offer Down Payment Assistance (DPA) programs for low and moderate-income borrowers.
But besides exploring DPAs, consider some ways to save that might make that first “bulk” payment a little easier.
1. AUTOMATIC REACTION:
Most of us aren’t automatic savers by nature, so set up a process with your bank to deduct a percentage of your paycheck into a dedicated Home Savings Account. Just like your health insurance and 401 K, allocate a certain amount to go directly into a savings account or money market account.
Not seeing the money go from one account to another will reduce the temptation to spend it.
2. BANK YOUR WINDFALLS:
Every once in awhile, we all make a little money we didn’t expect. Maybe it’s an income tax refund, a settlement check, a work bonus or sale of some personal asset. Fight the temptation to party it away, and put it in your Home Savings Account. You’ll be partying in your new home soon enough!
3. USE DISCRETION:
It’s about discretionary income – or how you spend money that doesn’t go to necessities.
Pick out some vice or “regular habit” you can do without – that morning latte, the pint (or two) at happy hour…maybe even that high-end stylist or manicurist.
When faced with the option to buy something that is truly “discretionary,” just say no. Drink the free office coffee, have water at the bar, and go to a barber.
You could even cut your hair yourself – but we don’t recommend it.
Each time you say no, donate the amount you would have spent to your housing fund. It may not seem like it at first, but if you commit to the long term, the dollars will add up.
4. IT’S JUST LUNCH AND COFFEE:
The average American goes out for lunch an average of twice a week, costing more than $1,000 a year.
The average American worker also spends an average of $14.40 a week on coffee at coffee stands and stores. That’s another $1,100 a year.
Each time you eat the evening meal at home instead of at a restaurant, you save at least $20 a pop. If you go out twice a week, cut it down to once a week. You just found $1,040 a year.
5. FREE TV:
In 2009, the average U.S. household spent $975 annually on cable or satellite television. Cut the cord, at least until you’ve moved into your new home.
6. RAISE YOUR INTEREST:
Getting a higher rate of interest on your savings account can be a boost. “Super Savings” accounts are available at many banks, with the caveat that no money can be removed for a designated period.
Ask your banker. This secondary savings account works in everyone’s favor, because you are incentivized to save, and the bank gets to hold on to your money longer.
7. ROOM AND BOARD:
If you have extra space, consider renting it out to someone on a temporary basis. Decent housing is hard to find. It can be a pain, but it’s for a good cause – you! Once you have achieved your savings goals, you simply move on.
Don’t discount the possibility of a renter for your new home, either. With today’s home prices, it’s a huge bonus to get a portion of the monthly mortgage from a renter, while you continue to reap all the rewards of ownership.
8. CREDIT CHECK:
The average consumer pays $1,000 a year in credit card interest. Work hard, even take a temporary second job, if it can help decrease and eliminate high-interest debts.
Pay off your credit card in full every month. Use it like cash, and use cash to pay it back. Many cards reward regular use with “points” toward flights, gift cards and discounts. Just be responsible.
9. DIG DPA:
Your trusted lender from Bay Equity Home Loans will guide you through the entire loan process and has many options available for making that down payment without breaking the bank.
Our experienced professionals have helped thousands of buyers of all income levels to achieve the American Dream.