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How to save for a down payment on a house

These smart savings strategies can help you hit your home-buying goals.

Saving up enough for a down payment is totally doable with a few smart strategies. With these tips in mind, you can figure out how to save for a house—and get there more quickly than you might think. 

  • Set your house budget.

    You have to set your down payment goals before you can start reaching them, and that means figuring out how much house you can afford. Money experts suggest spending around 25-30 percent of your income on your mortgage — and most lenders won’t approve a mortgage that would cost you more than 35 percent.

    Do a little math to calculate how much you should spend on your mortgage payment each month. You can use our mortgage calculator to get an idea of your target home price based on what you want to spend each month.

  • Set your savings goal.

    When deciding how to save for a house there are two main costs to consider: the upfront costs and the ongoing costs. Your initial savings goal should cover the upfront costs. This includes your down payment, closing costs, home appraisal, and home inspection. Here’s how to estimate each:

    • Down Payment: Up 20 percent of your house budget, but most first-time buyers put down less than 10 percent
    • Basic home inspection: $300-$500
    • Home appraisal: $300-$400
    • Closing Costs: Between 2 and 5 percent of your total house budget
  • Set a timeline.

    The exciting thing about a timeline is you officially have a target date for being ready to buy a home. That’s a huge motivator for saving. Look at your current income and expenses and determine how much you could squirrel away each month. Divide that amount by your savings goal for your upfront housing costs, and you’ve got the number of months between today and home ownership.

  • Make a budget and track your spending.

    Speaking of your budget, if you don’t have one and you don’t track your spending each month, now’s the time to start. Sure, it takes a little time, but once you see where all your money goes each month, you’ll be amazed by how many opportunities you’re likely to find for cutting back and saving money — and building up that down payment fund.

    Check out our budgeting tips for ideas on how to save even faster — like changing your cable package or getting a roommate. You may find enough room to boost your monthly house savings and speed up your timeline.

  • Share your goal.

    Lots of people tend to keep their money lives quiet, but there are two really good reasons to share your house savings goal with friends and family:

    • Accountability is a great motivator. When you know your parent or friend is going to ask how your house savings is going, you’re more likely to keep up with it.
    • They may want to help! Ask for small contributions toward your down payment for birthdays and holidays. You can use cash registry websites like Zola or to make it easy for gifters to help out.

    And once you’ve saved, it’s time to start your search! You can start by figuring out how much home you can afford — and we’ll help you on your way to discover the place you’ll love to live.