How to buy a home in an expensive area

Published on Jul 01, 2021

How to buy a home in an expensive area

One of the first steps in any homebuying process is selecting location. This will have a major impact on amenities and price. For instance, a three-bedroom house in the suburbs may carry the same price tag as a downtown studio walkup. If your ideal city, school district, or neighborhood is in an expensive area, you’re not alone. 

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prepare for those extra costs. If you’re looking to buy a home in higher-priced community, here are 5 tips to help you realize your goal to get the home you want. 

  1. Check out first-time homebuyers programs — First-time homebuyers have several resources available to assist with qualification and mortgage expenses. Many state and county initiatives are designed to help reduce the amount of down payment and closing costs. These may often offer second mortgage loans to help purchase or even construct your home. Nationally, FHA, VA, and Freddie Mac all back low down payment mortgages, some even as low 3%of the price of the property. 
  2. Improve your credit score — Your credit score can have a dramatic effect on your ability to buy a property. Not only does a higher score help you qualify for the mortgage, it will earn you a lower mortgage interest rate. Aim for a score of 760 or more to maximize this benefit. A lower mortgage interest rate means you can budget more of your monthly payments toward your principal balance, qualifying you for a more expensive home. Here are some tips for improving your credit score.
  3. Adjust your habits to save for a down payment — Buying a house in an expensive area means higher down payments, closing costs, and moving expenses. If you aren’t quite prepared for those expenses, create a timeline and short-term savings goal to build up your homebuying fund. There are several ways you can adjust your short-term spending to increase your monthly savings. If you tend to eat out, try reducing your daily meal expenses by staying in. Maybe you don’t really need the three-bedroom apartment for the next year and can save some rent by temporarily downsizing your living space. Examine your current circumstances and monthly budget for any short-term adjustments you can make. Before you know it, you could save thousands of dollars to help snag that dream home.
  4. Buy the fixer upper — Every neighborhood has a house that needs a bit more work. Maybe a better investment means not buying the most expensive house on the block. Consider buying the fixer upper. It will be less expensive than move-in ready homes and will present a better opportunity to increase the home value. To avoid paying double for housing, try to find a home that you can live in while you renovate. The property value of your new home will increase the more you put in sweat equity. Although DIY can save you money, don’t hesitate to use qualified professionals if you have limited knowledge or are working with electricity, plumbing, or structural changes. If you decide to go this route, here are some ways you can save on remodeling.
  5. Purchase a home with a rental property or mother-in-law suite — A home with a rental opportunity can create additional revenue to cut down on your mortgage payments. Consider both short or long-term rental solutions. Short-term solutions, like Airbnb, can give homeowners flexibility when offering up their place to rent. Any long-term rental will experience natural wear and tear, so make sure you’ve saved enough resources to cover any repairs to the property. Make sure to check the neighborhood regulations to see which options are allowed. ​

Buying a home doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your ideal location. Whether that means planning ahead for a bigger down payment, special loan programs, or buying a fixer upper, there are ways of making your dream of living in an expensive area a reality. With some creative thinking and solid financial planning, you can get the house you desire.