Paying It Forward – How Renters Become Buyers

Paying It Forward - How Renters Become BuyersNothing compares to the feeling of having a place to call home. At one time or another, however, most of us have felt frustration at seeing hard-earned money go into rent every month rather than a more permanent house payment. Renting is most people’s first step toward homeownership, but what do you need to do to realize the dream of owning a home?

Sometimes, it’s not the regular rent-money obligations but other expenses that are the main obstacle in saving. A whole debt-counseling industry has arisen to guide consumers in getting out from under what they owe. Smart saving – not depriving yourself, just ensuring stability and enjoyment over the longest term – involves many moves both major and simple, and can help prepare you for that first down payment.

On the simple end, rediscovering home cooking (and enjoying the leftovers as brownbag lunches) can amount to significant savings as compared to regularly dining out. On a higher level of financial planning, establishing a household budget and sticking to it – including a specific amount set aside for savings every month – can get you to your home-affording goals sooner than you might have imagined.

You may also want to meet with a counselor who can negotiate a lower rate and set a sensible structure for your repayments on credit cards – while advising you how to ease dependence on them. (This not only gets you on your own financial feet, but helps keep your credit rating intact for the very home loan you hope to someday secure.)

There are additional ways to start working toward homeownership. Some sellers will enter into a “rent-to – buy” agreement, in which part of the regular rent is considered an installment of the home’s down payment, which, once built up, can help you obtain financing. Low-income renters may also qualify for federal “Section 8″ vouchers which are paid to the landlord, subsidizing your rental expenses and helping you save for a permanent home.

Just as some renting options allow you to set funds aside, some types of purchases can help defray your costs even as you fulfill the stepped-up obligations of homeownership. Pooling resources with other buyers to occupy a two-family home could be one; buying such a home by yourself and renting one half of it could be another.

Even if your economics remain challenging, there are low-down-payment mortgages, and other forms of financing for special circumstances, available to buyers who meet the right criteria. Your local real estate professional can help you navigate through these options (accessing such resources as ERA Mortgage). He or she can also identify what government help might be available, and generally counsel you on your readiness to be a buyer – and on what else you might need to do to get there. If you consult the right sources and seek common-sense strategies, then your every move in the renter’s world can be pointing you home.