The task of finding housing that you can afford can sometimes be extremely difficult. This is true whether you are looking to purchase a residence or prefer rental housing of some type. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take that will help you determine what you can afford and where to look for affordable housing in your area.
Your first task involves identifying how much you can reasonably afford to pay for rent or a house payment each month. Begin by looking at your monthly net income. Multiply this figure by 30%. Unless you are currently under a great deal of credit card or other debt, there is a good chance you can afford to devote that much of your net income to housing each month.
After determining what you can reasonably manage in the way of a house payment or rent each month, contact local realtors. Many realtors manage rental properties for independent landlords as well as sell homes. Make sure to contact several different realtors if you live in a metropolitan area. In larger cities, many realtors base their territories within one or two specific sectors of the city limits. By talking with several realtors, you will begin to get an idea of what type of affordable housing is available in various neighborhoods around the area. Realtors can also help you with the creation of a land contract or understanding the language included in a contract for deed.
A local government housing agency is another potential resource for affordable housing. While the quality of public housing varies from one community to another, it is worth considering, especially if money is very tight. Most agencies of this type have specific qualifications you must meet in order to be accepted, including the amount of gross income you generate annually, the number of people who will live in the housing unit, and whether or not you are currently employed.
Keep in mind that not everyone works through a realtor to sell or rent living space. This means you will also want to consult resources such as newspaper classifieds and other local print publications. Individuals with rental properties often choose to place print ads, especially if they have only a few units to manage.
Along with the local newspaper, look for weekly publications that allow people to place ads for buying and selling a wide range of items. Most of these local publications feature affordable housing options in sections devoted to apartment rentals as well as houses to rent or lease. You may also find some owners willing to enter into a rent-to-own agreement that would allow you to eventually own your home.
If you have money saved and want to purchase a home outright, it never hurts to look into local foreclosure offerings. Many banks maintain lists of properties they have foreclosed on recently and will offer them for sale at competitive prices. This is especially true when the bank’s main objective is to retire the debt and not incur a loss on the property. Depending on local custom, it may be possible to participate in an auction on foreclosed property at some location in the community, such as the local courthouse or probate office.
Never underestimate the power of using your social network to locate affordable housing. Friends, family members, and coworkers can often provide housing leads that you can investigate after work and on weekends. As an added bonus, they may be in a position to provide you with a personal reference and an introduction to the landlord. This can be especially effective if your contact is on good terms with the party who owns the property.