When we ask if it’s possible to buy a house frugally, it’s possible that the meaning gets a little mixed up. Some people assume that this would mean “can you buy a house dirt cheap?”. (Spoiler alert: the answer is probably “no”.) What we should actually think about here is bringing the “frugal mindset” to the act of buying a home.
One of the keys to living a frugal life is to identify areas where people usually end up losing a lot of money, often without even realizing it, and then avoiding those issues. It’s why, for example, so many frugal people go green wherever they can - they have the foresight to see that it will save them money in the long run!
A lot of people, even frugal people, don’t end up bringing a frugal mindset to the process of buying a house. We’re going to explore ways to do this by identifying problems that often lead to financial problems or even disaster in the near future.
The debt domino effect
People who buy homes are more likely to fall into other forms of debt soon after their purchase than people who don’t buy homes. It’s estimated that nearly half of all people who apply for a mortgage open a new credit card within twelve months. About a quarter will go on to open an auto loan in the same period. Consumers who don’t have a mortgage are about half as likely to get into the same forms of debt. This is because people often become ‘desensitized’ to other large purchases after getting a mortgage. Don’t fall into that trap!
Unrealistic mortgage expectations
One of the best ways to save for a downpayment on a mortgage is, of course, to live frugally! But even living frugally doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll sign up for a mortgage that works for you. The best thing you can do is work out how much you can borrow with a mortgage calculator long before you plan on applying for a mortgage. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll know whether you’re living frugally enough to get the mortgage you need to find a comfortable place. Remember that the more frugal you are, the more money you’re going to have at the end of each month - and that’s what mortgage lenders really care about!
Greedy real estate agents
Those who want to take a frugal methodology to the home-buying process need to be wary of local home values. People who want to save money often hire real estate agents to find the best deals for them. But here’s a problem: real estate agents usually earn at least 3% commission on the home you end up buying. That means the lower the price they find for you, the less they get paid. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t work with one, nor even that you should be totally paranoid around one - but you should remember not to put complete trust in them if you really want to save as much money as possible.