Escaping the Vicious Cycle of Renting Forever
by CashTime Loan Centers
Are you a renter wishing you could figure out a way to buy a home and stop being at the mercy of ever-increasing rent payments? You are among a growing population in America, as renters in the U.S. continue to struggle to afford decent housing, even as home prices are rising across the country and fewer homeowners are defaulting on their mortgage payments. The number of renters is growing faster than the number of homeowners, as over 43 million households in America now rent, and less than 40% of renters can afford to buy a house in their city.
Trying to save for a down payment while renting can be an uphill battle for many families as rent prices continue to climb due to housing demands and a lack of inventory of available homes to buy in many major metropolitan areas. A 2017 report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University showed that the number of severely rent-burdened households reached 11 million last year. These are families who are forced to spend more than half their income to pay rent, making it difficult if not impossible to put any portion of their income toward saving for a down payment on a home.
Things being the way they are, you may be asking yourself why you should try to buy a home at all; why not continue renting indefinitely? There are several advantages to home ownership, one of the biggest and most obvious of which is the stability of a fixed-rate mortgage payment over a rent payment that can be raised at the whim of your landlord. Owning your home means you have the comfort of knowing your monthly payment will not change, making budgeting and saving much easier. The fact that owning a home offers much more financial stability than renting is a big reason to buy a home and stop renting.
Buying allows you to build equity, and that means that home ownership can also help you enjoy a more comfortable retirement. Individuals who either own their homes or owe very little on their mortgage as they approach retirement age can sell their homes and use the proceeds to fund their retirement years. Retirees can purchase a smaller home with the money they net from the sale of their home or use that money to pay for travel and other activities.
How can you make your dreams of home ownership a reality? Many people who dream of owning their own home say that the biggest barrier to achieving that dream is saving enough money for a down payment. Standard wisdom says that a 20% down payment is necessary to purchase a home, and that’s great if you can get that much money together. For a lot of people, however, 20% is not possible. The good news is, a 20% down payment is not always required. In fact, down payments as low as 3% or 3.5% are available to many home buyers, based on different loan programs. For a $250,000 home, a 20% down payment means you’ll have to come up with $50,000, while a 3.5% down payment is only $8,750. Don’t assume you need 20% down to qualify for a mortgage; ask the lender of your choice what sort of down payment assistance programs are available in your area.
Here are five ways to save for a down payment even while you continue to rent:
1. Adjust your allowances. If you get a big tax refund each year, you’re probably letting the IRS keep too much of your paycheck. Adjust your tax withholding by filing a new W-4 form with your employer, keep that money and put it into a savings account during the year where it can earn interest. As a homeowner you’ll be allowed to deduct and itemize property taxes and mortgage interest, a privilege you’ll never have as a renter.
2. Share expenses. If you can sacrifice a little privacy in the short term, the long term benefits of getting a roommate could be huge. Pocket the monthly savings directly into your down payment savings account, and watch it grow.
3. Carpool. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the second biggest expense for consumers after housing is transportation. Negotiate with your boss to work from home two days a week and save on transportation costs to bump up your savings for a down payment. Consider organizing an office carpool if there are several coworkers who live in a concentrated area, taking public transportation, riding a bicycle, or walking to work.
4. Ditch the gym membership you’re not using. If you ride a bike or walk to work to save money for your down payment, you’ll be getting the exercise you’re paying for and probably not getting, if you’re like most people. It’s a win-win!
5. Eat at home. You’d be amazed if you added up all the money you spend on fast food lunches, dinners at your favorite restaurant, and drinks at the bar on the weekend. You don’t have to stay home forever but try experimenting with one “no spend month” in these categories and see how much you save. The savings could be impressive enough to motivate you to extend it for another month, and another, as you watch your down payment savings grow ever large and the goal of home ownership grow ever closer.
If getting a down payment together still sounds daunting, consider this; if you can garner a mortgage payment that’s just $150 per month lower than your current rent, you’ll save $1,800 in your first year alone. If that rent never went up over the next 30 years (highly unlikely!) you would save $54,000 simply by having a fixed mortgage payment. Home ownership doesn’t have to remain an unfulfilled dream, but breaking the vicious cycle of renting will take hard work, sacrifice, and determination. Between the tax savings, financial stability, equity building, privacy, and the pride you’ll feel knowing you’ve accomplished your dream, all the hard work and sacrifice will be well worth it.