If you’re attending college or graduate school and you’re thinking about buying a house, you may be able to get a mortgage. You will have to clear the same hurdles as other applicants, but you may face additional challenges if you’re not working full-time.
Should You Buy a House While Attending School?
Homeownership is expensive, even for people with full-time jobs. If you’re only working part-time or not working at all, making ends meet will be tougher, unless you have a spouse or partner who earns enough to cover most of the bills or you receive money from your family.
Housing prices vary widely from region to region. Costs for university housing also vary from one educational institution to another. If you can purchase an inexpensive property or buy a house and rent out bedrooms to cover most of the mortgage, you may spend less in the long run than you would spend on campus housing.
Look at your current monthly expenses and estimate how much a mortgage, private mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, property taxes, maintenance and repairs would cost. Figure out if you could afford to cover all those costs, either on your own or with help from renters.
Consider how long you would live in the house. If you expect to complete your degree and then move away, buying a house may not make sense financially. If you plan to put down roots in the area and stay there long after graduation, or if you’re thinking of a house as an investment, buying a property now may pay off.
How Can You Qualify for a Home Loan?
A mortgage lender will look at your income, credit score, debt-to-income ratio and other factors that it uses to assess all applications. A lender may be wary if you have little or no income, but it may be willing to approve your application if you get a cosigner.
If you have student loans that you aren’t currently repaying, a lender may exclude them when it calculates your debt-to-income ratio. If you’re making loan payments now, that may or may not make it harder to qualify for a mortgage, depending on your monthly payment amount and debt-to-income ratio. Making payments on time can help you build a good credit score.
The amount of money you can put down will be important. Some lenders will require a substantial down payment, while others will have less stringent requirements.
Your age and where you want to buy a house may be relevant. In some states, you will be able to take out a mortgage at age 18, while in other places, the minimum age is 21.
You may be eligible for a federal program that can help you buy a house. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Administration offer loan programs that have low down payment requirements and some that are specifically designed for first-time homebuyers.