If you want to buy a house but you have student loans, you may be trying to figure out if you should save money for a down payment or focus on eliminating your existing debt before you take on a mortgage. The answer will depend on your individual circumstances.
What Are the Terms of Your Student Loans?
The amount you owe, your interest rate and the number of years left in your repayment period are all important. If you have large monthly payments that are straining your budget now, focus on paying down your loan balance or refinancing before you take out a mortgage. If you have a low interest rate and manageable payments, you may be able to set aside money for a down payment on a house while still meeting your student loan obligations.
The total amount of interest you will pay on your student loans will depend on your interest rate and the period of time it takes you to pay off the debt. If you have a high interest rate, or if you want to minimize the amount of money you spend on interest, paying off your loans first may be a better option.
Student loan debt can cause you to have a high debt-to-income ratio, which may make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage. Paying off your student loans can lower your DTI ratio and help you raise your credit score.
What Is the Local Housing Market Like?
In some places, renting is cheaper than buying a house. In other areas, the reverse is true. If you’re currently renting a home and your payments are relatively low, you may be better off staying put and eliminating your debt before you take on a higher mortgage payment. If buying a house would cost you about the same amount you’re paying in rent, or even less, then getting into your own home sooner rather than later may pay off.
How Secure Is Your Job?
A house is probably the largest financial investment you’ll ever make, so you should be confident that you’ll be able to afford the payments. If you’re concerned about your job security, or if you’re in a position that you expect to be temporary, it may be a good idea to put off a home purchase until your employment situation is more stable.
What Should You Do?
Carefully consider your circumstances and decide whether to tackle one goal first or to do both at once. No matter what you choose, finding more money in your budget to put toward your goals will help you achieve them sooner. Working over-time or finding a second job or side gig can give you extra funds. Cutting back on non-essential expenses, such as entertainment and takeout, can free up money that can go toward your priorities. Make a list of your current debts and living expenses and come up with a strategy that will work for you.