The housing market is turbocharged these days because of a shortage of homes for sale is leading to heavy competition between home buyers. That keeps pushing home prices higher and higher.
If you’re looking to buy a home, you better buckle up.
The housing market remains hot, even though things might be starting to slow down just a little bit, according to news sources like CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Low mortgage rates continue to spur robust demand, and the number of houses for sale is well below normal.
If you want to buy your own home, you’ll need to be smart and strategic about it. Consider these six tips:
1. Boost Your Credit Score
Looking to buy a home? Then there’s something you need to start thinking about right now: Your credit score. We know that sounds boring, but it’s actually super important, if you’re going to be signing up for a mortgage sometime in the future.
The higher your score is, the better deal you’ll likely get on your loan. So a good credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year mortgage.
If you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or if you just want to bump it up some more — try using a free platform called Credit Sesame.
Within a couple minutes, you’ll be able to see your credit score, as well as a breakdown of what factors are contributing to your score and personalized tips on how to manage your credit better. With a couple of strategic decisions, you can improve your credit, saving you thousands.
2. Grow Your Money 16x Faster — Without Risking It
To buy a home, you’re going to need to start saving up money for a down payment.
A debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back every time you swipe the card and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account. Plus, you’ll never pay a monthly account maintenance fee.
To see how much you could earn, enter your email address here, link your bank account and add at least $10 to your account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
3. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper
To save up that down payment, you’re going to want to find new ways to save money on everything else. For example, groceries account for a good chunk of your budget. Everybody’s got to eat. You may as well earn a little money back while your groceries are being bagged up.
A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something.
4. Stop Overpaying for Stuff Online
Here’s another way to save money. Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert any time you’re shopping on Amazon or Walmart.com and you’re about to get ripped off?
That’s exactly what this free service does.
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new pair of shoes, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact pair of shoes is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.
In the last year, this has saved people $160 million. You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
5. Knock $540/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes
When it comes to saving up for a down payment, cutting your other bills can make a huge difference. So when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $540 a year. That could be money back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
6. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
Getting a mortgage for a house is a form of debt. But credit card debt is the most expensive kind of debt there is, and your credit card company is just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. However, a website called AmOne can help you fight back.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
Buying a home is a major step in life. If you follow these strategies, you’ll get closer to your goal.
Mike Brassfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a homeowner.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.