Coming up with a down payment is hard, especially the first one. I thought it might be helpful to tell how people have come up with them.
I bought my first house when I was 20 years old. My husband, baby and I moved in with my mother for 8 weeks to help save the money. At that time, interest rates were around 15%. We found a seller, with an assumable loan for 12%. Assuming the loan lowered our closing costs and also got us a better interest rate.
I have also bought three houses by drawing on or liquidating (due to change of employment) my 401K. I always maxed out my contributions to the 401K (20-25% I think). I hardly missed the money because of the tax difference and it adds up quickly. The penalties for withdrawing the funds were offset by the tax savings of buying the house.
I have sold houses to people without much down payment by letting them assume my loan or doing a lease with option to buy.
A lot depends too on where you're trying to buy property--in many parts of the country, there are many dumps you can't afford to buy for under $150,000....
I do think that college is a much better money investment than any car--if you can afford car payments, you can afford the cheaper colleges.
Although today, there is less reason than ever to go to college to "get" an education--I mean, it's all here on the internet if you want to go look for it. The diploma is really a discriminator--lets you in some places a little more easily, or at all. It also shows that you can commit yourself to something over a stretch of time. The other reason to go to college is perhaps to be exposed to differing points of view because of hopefully a more diverse group of people. But the internet does that too.
To me, college was never about getting job skills--that's what trade school is for--college is more about broadening your horizons. I don't feel any college is wasted, no matter what you end up doing. No honest work is demeaning in any way--I know lots of people who enjoy working for the post office, or waiting tables, or whatever. Lots of people take these jobs so they can pay bills while working on their art or novel or whatever. Staying home with your children is not a waste either.
I lost two complete houses to ex-husbands ( would rather walk away than fight).
After that I bought my first house by living in a truck camper in the driveway of the place for two months. I found that the best way for me to afford what I want is to get a place that is fairly solid but the yard/land is a mess. People will not even look at places overgrown with weeds and the price goes way down.
MY first place was a 1200 sq foot cottage that had been totally gutted and remodelled on the inside, but there was 1/3 acre of high weeds all around it. Even in the brisk Denver market at the time it went for only $74,000. Sold it four years later for $128,000. Bought a place I hated - brick track home for $135,000 lived in it for the required two years and sold it for $185,000. Moved to Washington and bought a place that was only 8 years old on half an acre, but totally overgrown with blackberries for $84,000. Sold it this year after four years for $135,000 and bought my dream farm on 4.5 acres that had been vacant for a year and overrun with blackberries also (I am getting really good at clearing blackberries!). for $150,000. So I have done quite well just finding that place that doesn't "show" well, but basically is sound, that's almost as important as the down payment since there are many programs out there that can reduce the cash needed to start. However, until you get where you want to be pay careful attention to the resale value of the home. I had a little trouble selling my first place because I put in all gardens and people were afraid of all the "work". The general population is just not into working in their yard - imagine that!
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