How to Prepare for a Mortgage in Your 20s


Your 20s is an exciting time. It’s when you graduate college and secure your first real job; and for many young adults, it’s also a time to think about a home purchase. Unfortunately, tapping the American dream is harder than some people realize.

Mortgage requirements constantly evolve, and after the most recent mortgage meltdown, lenders have tightened the belt, making it harder for some to get a home loan. This doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for a mortgage in your 20s, but it will take advanced preparation.

1.Pay rent while waiting to buy

Managing a mortgage is a huge responsibility. If you didn’t live on your own prior to buying a home, transitioning from your parents’ house to a mortgage can be challenging.

You’re not only responsible for the mortgage payment, but also the costs of home repairs and maintenance. There’s no rule saying you have to be a renter before you can become an owner. But for a smoother transition, consider renting before buying. This way, you can get accustomed to paying rent and managing household expenses. Options include renting an apartment with a roommate, or if you live at home, pay your parents rent.

2. Live at home for as long as you can

You don’t need a massive bank account to purchase a home. Many loan programs allow as little as 3.5% to 5% down. The problem with a low down mortgage is that you’re required to pay mortgage insurance, which can cost hundreds every month. Bu if you’re able to live at home a little longer while working full time, there’s an opportunity to not only pay down costly student loan debt, but also save a larger down payment.

If you put away at least 20% for a down payment, you can purchase a home without mortgage insurance. Plus a higher down payment limits the amount you need to finance.

3.Don’t get too many credit cards

Applying for a credit card is an excellent way to build your credit history, which is something you need to buy a house. But although credit is important and serves a useful purpose, don’t go overboard with credit cards.

Rather than open multiple credit card accounts, limit yourself to one or two credit cards. Manage the card responsibly by paying off your balances in full every month and never paying your bills late. These habits build a strong credit score, which helps you qualify for a low-rate mortgage.

4.Don’t job hop

Your 20s is a time of self-discovery. You’re growing as an adult, and you’re finding your career path. Sometimes, your first job out of college isn’t a right fit. Changing employers early in your career isn’t the worst decision you can make. But if you’re thinking about buying a house in your 20s, don’t job hop too much. Lenders prefer mortgage applicants who remain with the same employer for at least two years. And if they do switch employers, lenders typically require that they remain in the same field.

5.Take a homebuyer education course

Homebuyer education courses are required by some home loan programs, particularly those with zero down or a low-down payment option. But even if your particular loan doesn’t require homebuyer education, it doesn’t hurt to enroll in a course. Some courses charge a fee, but you can also find free courses online.

This is a valuable tool for preparing for the mortgage process. You’ll learn about different types of financing, ways to improve credit, down payment and closing costs assistance options, plus advice on successfully managing a home loan.