Saving enough for a down payment and closing costs and being able to afford a monthly mortgage payment may be challenging, but achieving those goals is possible with planning and foresight.
Get Your Credit in Shape
Request copies of your credit reports from the three credit bureaus—Transunion, Equifax and Fico. Go through them carefully and look for errors. If you find any, dispute the information and have the problems corrected so a mortgage lender doesn’t hold erroneous or outdated information against you.
If your credit score is too low to qualify for a mortgage with a competitive interest rate, work on boosting your score. Make all required payments on time and pay down credit card debts to lower your debt-to-income ratio. That will make you more likely to get approved for a mortgage and will give you more room in your budget for a mortgage payment and other expenses.
Look for Opportunities to Boost Your Income and Lower Your Expenses
If possible, consider taking on a part-time job or side gig to increase your earnings. Even a small boost in income can make a big difference in the long run if it helps you get out of debt or save for a down payment. You may also want to sell belongings that you no longer use to get extra cash to put toward a down payment.
Keep track of every dollar you spend for a month or more. That may seem overwhelming, but doing so can provide you with valuable information. Many people don’t realize how much money they spend on things that aren’t necessary, such as coffee and recurring subscriptions they don’t use. Knowing where your money is going can help you find ways to cut your expenses and save for a down payment.
You may be able to get companies you do business with regularly to lower your bills. For example, your internet and cell phone providers may be willing to switch you to more affordable plans if you have been a loyal customer for several years. Just call and ask.
If your current housing payment is high and is making it difficult for you to save money for a down payment, look for a way to lower that expense. If you have an extra bedroom, consider getting a roommate to share housing and utility costs. You may also want to move to a less expensive apartment or live with family members temporarily to save on housing costs.
Explore Loan Programs for Low-Income Borrowers
The federal government offers several mortgage programs that are designed to help people with low earnings become homeowners. The Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Affairs Administration and the Department of Agriculture offer programs that apply to borrowers in specific circumstances. If you’re a teacher, first responder or healthcare worker, you may qualify for the Good Neighbor Next Door Program. Your state or local government may also offer down payment assistance or other programs.