It’s no secret that buying a home is a serious financial undertaking, but aspiring homeowners are often left wondering what the methods behind the process actually look like. One of the telltale signs that you’re ready to buy a home is having substantial savings to use toward the purchase. The following information goes under the hood of the buying process to explain how much you need to save and some useful methods of saving money.
Making a Down Payment on a Home
The down payment is a large payment made by the buyer upfront to help fund the purchase of a home. Although a down payment of 20 percent of the home’s purchase price will avoid the need to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI), down payments of this size are not the norm. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2021, the typical down payment was seven percent for first-time home buyers and 17 percent for repeat buyers (NAR)1.
So, how long does it take to save up for the down payment? The answer is unique to each buyer. It depends on your needs as a homeowner, whether you have a deadline, and what you’re able to afford. Your mortgage will factor into the equation, too. Different mortgage types have different down payment requirements, with certain loan products requiring as little as 3% down to qualify. Remember that in general, a higher down payment equates to a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments for your mortgage.
How to Save Money to Buy a House
No matter where your savings stand, these strategies can help to beef up your savings account as you prepare to buy a home.
- Reduce Debt: Carrying extra debt can weigh you down throughout the home buying process. And even if you make progress on your savings, you’ll be stuck in limbo if you’re not able to qualify for a mortgage. Consider refinancing existing loans and explore ways to reduce credit card debt to set yourself up for success. This will also put you in a better position when you enter the pre-approval process for your mortgage.
- Rethink Your Budget: Are your streaming subscriptions piling up? Is now the best time for that five-star vacation you had planned? Saving up to buy a home doesn’t mean you need to abandon all your leisurely expenses, but it is worth it to look at them from a new perspective to find ways you can save. It’s also a good time to examine your bills and self-audit your current living expenses.
- Increase Your Savings: Once you go through your expenditures with a fine-toothed comb, you may find there’s ample opportunity to increase your savings. Regularly contributing to a high-yield savings account will put you on the fast track to pile up your extra funds and ensure that you’re setting them aside.
- Additional Streams of Income: If you’ve ever thought of using your unique skills to generate some extra dollars, now is the time to act. Whether it’s teaching music lessons, offering tutoring classes, selling your handmade goodies at the local farmer’s market, etc., the extra revenue from a side hustle can help you purchase a home.
Budget for Additional Home Purchase Costs
Once you’ve got your head wrapped around the down payment and formed your saving strategy, you can shift your financial preparations toward the remaining costs of buying a home. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- Closing Costs: Closing costs for buyers typically range anywhere between 2% and 6% of the home loan amount but vary by transaction.
- Homeowners Insurance: Lenders will usually require that your purchase a homeowners insurance policy, which covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.
- Repairs and Remodeling: The home you end up buying may very well be in need of repair, and you may have certain remodeling projects in mind. These costs can stack up quickly, so be sure to carve out ample room in your home buying budget accordingly.
- Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees: If the home you’re purchasing is governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA), you will be required to pay monthly HOA fees on top of your existing mortgage monthly payment.
1: National Association of REALTORS® (2021) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers