Skip to main content

5 ways you can save money while house-hunting

Buying a house can be stressful—especially on your bank account. There are so many things to think about, and the top item on the list is how much house you can afford. You’ll need to determine a comfortable monthly mortgage range before you ever begin looking for a home. If not, you’ll risk falling in love with something you see and try to back into being able to afford it. A good rule of thumb is that your mortgage payment (including private mortgage insurance, HOA, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance) should not exceed more than 25% of your take-home pay.

House hunting is the time when most people tighten the purse strings and look for ways to save money for the house of their dreams. Not only do you need to save money for the down payment itself, but any moving costs you’ll incur, updates you want to make to the home, new furniture you’ve had your eye on, and a host of other items. Here are some ideas on how to do just that.

family moving into new home
4pm production/Shutterstock

Do your homework

There are a ton of house hunting apps and websites on the market that make house hunting from the comfort of your own home easy. While Zillow and Trulia’s websites allow anyone to post a listing for free (which means some of the info may be outdated), they are so popular that MLS brokers are adding their listings. In fact, the National Association of Realtors reports that 50 percent of buyers found the home they purchased on their own, while only 28 percent found theirs with a real estate agent. You can also take advantage of open houses to get a sense of what’s on the market and what’s important to you in a new home.

Negotiate realtor fees

The industry standard is for sellers to pay a 2.5 percent to 3 percent commission to their agent and another 2.5 percent to 3 percent to the buyer’s agent. But you can always ask for a better deal. A lot of this depends on the market itself. If there aren’t a lot of listings available, a realtor may be more willing to negotiate. The same goes if a realtor is relatively new versus a 20-year vet in the industry. Bottom line—you won’t know if you don’t ask. Don’t leave money on the table.

making a budget
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Track your spending

Most people have monthly budgets they live within. Now is the time to look at that budget and refine it a bit. If you give yourself X amount to eat out monthly, consider cooking at home to save money. If you’ve got a vacation you’ve been planning for the year, you may have to sit this one out. Ask yourself if you really need another pair of black heels. It’s not fun to cut costs, but every little decision you make on how you spend your money will help fund your new home.

Research mortgage options

There are a variety of available mortgages, and they all vary on how much a homebuyer needs to put down.
Some conventional mortgages target first-time buyers and require as little as 3 percent down. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and allow down payments as low as 3.5 percent. USDA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for rural homebuyers and usually require no down payment at all. Talk to multiple lenders to decide what’s right for you.

pet dog
kyrylo vasyliev / Shutterstock

Get a side hustle

The gig economy is blowing up for a reason. There are tons of side gigs you can do to make some extra cash for a new home. Consider driving for a ride-sharing service. What about pet sitting for a few months? There are so many options on websites like SquareSpace (and others) that connect people with services needed. It’s worth checking into; you can make thousands of extra dollars to go towards your down payment.

House hunting doesn’t have to be all-consuming (though it may feel like it some days). Today, there are so many things you can do from your laptop that don’t require you to drive all over the city every weekend or making a million phone calls to get answers. Use the resources at your fingertips to make the process as stress-free as possible. Once you have a number in mind, stick to it. The end goal is moving into the house of your dreams. That will require some sacrifices and changes to your daily living for a while, but they will all be worth it once you are in.

Editors' Recommendations

Julie Scagell
I am a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, MN. My passions include my dogs, talking about my dogs, and taking pictures of…
Sanding, primer, or both? This is how to prepare a wall for painting
Don't skip these important steps before you start your next paint job
Two people painting an interior wall

Painting is the easiest way to transform any room in your home. A simple coat of paint is all it takes to make a drab space become a vibrant, bright room that everyone will love hanging out in. However, when it comes to actually getting the painting job done, there are some preparation steps that you need to consider.

Painting requires a bit of prep work, regardless of what condition your walls are in. Walls with holes and dents may take longer to prep than walls that just need a coat of paint. Additionally, you may need to consider sanding, priming, and other prepping methods that'll help your painting project go smoothly and ultimately result in a stunning, finished look.

Read more
Can you heat up Styrofoam? What you need to know to keep yourself safe
Find out if you can microwave Styrofoam
Person holding two Styrofoam carry-out containers

Sure, you may love to cook delicious, gourmet meals that your friends and family salivate over, but sometimes, throwing something in the microwave is just easier. Whether you're heating up yesterday's leftovers or reheating lukewarm takeout, the microwave can be the busy homeowner's best friend. But do you need to take the food out of that convenient Styrofoam container first? Can you heat up Styrofoam or is it unsafe to do so?

Microwaves are easy to use, but that doesn't mean every type of food container belongs in them. Depending on what you're using to reheat food, you may need to transport it to a microwave-safe plate. Metal-based materials, for instance, can't go in the microwave since the waves can't penetrate metal. With a few exceptions, most glass and ceramic dishes are microwave-safe containers, as are some forms of Tupperware, but they may not be practical for transporting or storing foods. Styrofoam is a commonly used food container, but can you microwave Styrofoam or even heat Styrofoam at all?

Read more
We found the absolute best places to buy affordable midcentury modern furniture
Here's where to get midcentury modern furniture on the cheap
Interior of a house. Mustard yellow velvet loveseat. Living room with midcentury modern furniture. Concrete floor. Vintage carpet. Eclectic living room.

Furnishing a home or apartment can get uber expensive, especially when you’re all about creating a stylish, cohesive look in your place. So where can you buy midcentury modern furniture cheap, which is in fashion right now and shows no signs of going out of style?

Inexpensive midcentury modern furniture can be hard to come by in a typical, big-box furniture retail store. This style will only be a small part of a vast collection, and normally at a high cost. But there are many other ways to find the chic pieces you’re looking for. Lo and behold, we present our guide to buying affordable midcentury modern furniture.

Read more