Four Creative Housing Solutions Amid the Tricky Market
Typically for prospective homebuyers, low-interest rates mean a lower barrier to entry into the delightful world that is homeownership. Even with low-interest rates, buyers are having a hard time even getting their foot in the door — quite literally.
The current real estate bubble is the antithesis to the late 2000’s housing crisis. Ten years ago, too many for-sale signs lined the streets with not enough buyers. Today, the housing shortage generated by the wake of COVID-19 has left buyers scrambling to sign the dotted line. It’s a seller’s market, and it’s not easy to make an offer within twenty-four hours to beat the crowd. Realtors report seeing multiple offers on homes, with some offering cash, and tens of thousands over asking price. It seems today’s buyers don’t have a fighting chance achieving the American dream of homeownership — or do they?
As a homebuyer, your options are not limited to single-family residences. If your search has faced competition, low inventory, or financial limitations, consider getting creative. Four unique housing options could help to cut costs so you can save faster for a possibly larger down payment.
Purchase a Condo or a Townhome
Condos and townhomes are possible alternatives a traditional single-family home. They are typically less expensive options, regarding both the down payment and costs over time. Either one allows you to own real estate without taking on the responsibility of a single-family residence. Plus, these are excellent choices for a first home or for those seeking fewer maintenance responsibilities.
If you want to walk to work or have easy access to leisurely activities, look for condos and/or townhomes that are conveniently situated in the heart of the hustle and bustle. While condos provide the most hands-off ownership, they come with homeowner association (HOA) fees. These fees cover general maintenance such as exterior upkeep, common areas, elevators, etc. Though your maintenance responsibility may be less, you’ll still need account for the HOA fee in your budget. While townhomes generally have HOA fees as well, the exterior of the property is your responsibility. Townhomes serve as a good stepping stone between a condo and a single-family residence, especially for those who enjoy a say in the curb appeal of their space.
Condos and townhomes are generally more affordable than single-family homes and still offer the mortgage as a financing option.
Buy, Build or Rent a Tiny House
If you’re not ready or able to go the traditional housing route, you do have the option of buying a tiny house to minimize month-to-month rent costs — and maybe even to rent it out when buying the home you want. HomeAdvisor reports the average cost of a tiny house as $45,000 with the general range between $30,000 and $60,000 and highly customized houses at $150,000 or higher. 1 Before you make a decision, it’s important to consider where your tiny house will be located — on property owned or rented land. Take the time to understand the rules and policies of tiny houses in your state. And make sure you conduct thorough research before you take the plunge — some states allow tiny houses, and some do not.2
Additionally, make sure you’re up for everything that comes with tiny house living. It can work well for the right person, but living in a small space day in and day out can be challenging. Plus, your location may not be as conveniently located as other housing options. Although still a chunk of money, this more affordable option allows you to save on costs and not burn cash on monthly rent. Paying for a tiny house upfront will be the least expensive option overall. If you don’t have that kind of cash lying around, you may be able to go with a financing option. If you are interested in a building a tiny house or similar structure on your own property, Benchmark may be able to help.
Go on the Road with an Adventure Van
Adventure vans are the perfect fit for someone who wants to live life exploring. Bigger than an SUV but smaller than your typical RV/Camper, these can still maneuver through traffic, park easily and set up camp where most RVs cannot. Unlike a house, condo, townhome or tiny home, you can get in and go. There’s no packing or unpacking; you keep all your essentials in one spot and then get to see the world. An adventure van would be a great option for someone whose job is remote or requires them to be on the road more days out of the year than not. Plus, if you prefer the nomadic life as a single or couple or just want to show your family the world, this option is home away from home — on wheels.
Sail Away — or Stay Put — on a Liveaboard
A liveaboard is a boat that individuals choose to be their primary residence. Options may include powerboats, sailboats, trawlers, houseboats, or motorsailers.3 Often, it can be less expensive than traditional housing and gives a unique living experience. However, liveaboards have higher exposure to weather and its resulting damages. Plus, living on a boat requires special maintenance skills and an appreciation for the lifestyle’s unique experiences. But if you’re up for the challenge, this housing solution works well for those who live or work in a marine or recreational lifestyle. Depending on the boat you select, you can create a combo of space, style, and amenities that works for you. Like the adventure van, this home solution could take you exploring, but you may get a little wet along the way.
It’s a Long Game, not a Quick Win
Everyone’s financial situation and living preferences are different. No matter what home solution you choose, we encourage you to not only have your housing objectives in mind but also your financial landscape in view.
Adventure vans and liveaboards generally carry a degree of depreciation. However, depending on your unique situation, this trade-off could cut housing costs, helping you save for a down payment faster.
If you can’t afford the home of your dreams today, plan for tomorrow. Consider saving more by living in a creative housing option until then.
At Benchmark, we are committed to listening to your vision, and getting you the right mortgage for your future success. To learn more, contact your local Benchmark branch. We would be honored to provide you with our famous, excellent service.If you’re ready to take the next step with an expert loan officer you can trust, submit your loan application today.