Two different surveys from Homes.com and Northshore Fireplace polled 2,000 Americans about what makes up their dream home. Both results were well above Zillow’s April 2018 median home value of $215,600. But just because your dream home might be pricey, it does not mean you have to break the bank to get it.
The general rule of thumb is to buy with your head, not your heart. You may have a budget in mind for how much you can spend on a dream house, but then find something you love and buy it anyway. Experts caution to not get emotionally involved with a property, but sometimes it just happens. Do your research before you commit. Being a homeowner means there will be tons of costs involved. You will need money for a down payment, homeowner’s insurance, taxes, repairs, maintenance, utilities and pest control, to name just a few things. The biggest one-time expense will probably be your down payment and there are ways to save money for that.
Adjust your spending. No matter how much you try to save, it is vital to get a handle on your spending habits using a budget. Decide how much you will need to save and how long it will take to save that amount, then establish a plan. Once you have decided on a plan, make sure you stick with it.
Take a look at your company’s benefits plan. You might have access to assistance programs, especially if you are a university or government employee. If you are not sure what your company offers, ask your human resources representative for a list of available benefits.
There are plenty of down payment assistance programs out there, especially if you are a first-time homeowner. According to Realtor.com, there are more than 2,000 programs across the country. A report released by RealtyTrac and Down Payment Resource found that buyers who use down payment assistance programs save an average of $17,766 over the life of the loan. Researching down payment programs should be an automatic part of your loan shopping process.
If you have the good fortune of receiving any type of windfall, this could help you reach your savings goal. Fight the urge to go shopping and instead set aside raises, bonuses, tax refunds, or any money received for birthdays or other special events. Before you know it, you will have a nice little nest egg.
If you can make time outside your primary job, you could make a decent amount of money with a side gig. A recent Bankrate study found the average income earned per month from a side hustle is $686. That is more than $8,200 in a year. Get a part-time job, become a tutor or class instructor, be a pet walker or sitter, a personal trainer, resume writer or a home maintenance worker. Nowadays, you can even rent out your own car or parking space to earn extra income.