Three ways to save for a down payment on a house or condo

Renting a place to live can be a great experience, mostly because it doesn’t come with all the responsibilities of owning a home, like maintenance, yard work and paying property taxes

However, despite it being the most expensive purchase you’re ever likely to make, buying a house or condo of your own can have significant advantages including a tax write-off, the ability to build equity and the pride that comes from owning property.

Given the expense of buying a home, you need to plan for that big down payment and start saving now.

The down payment for a new house or condo can be anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent of the home price. With the average home price in the United States at $173,000, that down payment can range from $8,650 to $34,600.

1. Start cutting back. Wherever you can manage, start easing back on what you’re spending. For example, consider going to a lower-priced cable TV or phone package, and be more judicious about how you use the heat or air conditioning. Also, shop around for free renters insurance quotes to find out if you could be saving more money by combining your insurance with one company.

2. Know what you’re paying for. It’s not just the house that you have to pay for at closing – things like closing costs, as well as buying home insurance, always come into play. Make sure you shop around to find cheap home insurance.

3. Look within your means. The house you want may be more expensive than you’re looking to spend, so make sure you don’t overextend yourself right away. Before looking at specific houses, it’s a good idea to sit down with a loan provider to determine what you can afford. At this time, the lender can also pre-approve how much you can borrow, so you have a better idea of your price range as you are looking at homes.

And if you can’t find the house you want right away, don’t sweat it. The soft housing market means many homes are available at a lower cost than they were a few years ago. Be patient and make sure your investment is a smart one.

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