Can You Side Hustle Your Way Into Homeownership?

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  • Higher home prices and mortgage rates are making it difficult for people to buy homes.
  • You'll often hear that getting a side hustle could make your financial goals more attainable, but you'll need more than a modest income boost to afford a home today.

A side hustle could help make homeownership more attainable, but you'll need a solid foundation first.

If you're thinking of buying a home today, well, good luck with that. Not only are mortgage rates up, but property values remain elevated -- even as buyer demand has waned.

In January, the median existing-home sale price was $359,000, according to the National Association of Realtors. Now, the good news is that we're only talking about a 1.3% increase from January 2022. The bad news, though, is that mortgage loans were more affordable from an interest rate standpoint back then than they are today. So even though home price gains seem to be slowing, buyers are still facing a major affordability crunch.

You'll often hear that if you're trying to meet a big financial goal, a side hustle could be your ticket to it. But can you really side hustle your way into property ownership given the challenges today's buyers face?

A side job will help, but only to a point

Let's say you're looking to buy a home that costs around $359,000, and you're hoping to make a 20% down payment. That means you'll need around $72,000. If you have, say, $65,000 saved up already, then taking on a side hustle this year could get you to where you want to be as far as your down payment goes.

But if you're sitting on $3,000 toward a home down payment, then a side hustle may not be enough to set the stage for a home purchase -- even if you're willing to come to terms with the consequences of making a lower down payment, like facing private mortgage insurance. Granted, working a side hustle for, say, five years, might get you to a point where you're able to sign a mortgage. But if you don't want to wait that long to own a home, then a side hustle may not be good enough.

Plus, let's say you earn a decent wage and can generally afford the ongoing costs of owning a home, but you'd feel more comfortable with a $300 monthly income boost in case you run into issues with maintenance and repairs. In that case, a side hustle could make homeownership more affordable and realistic for you.

But let's say you're a lower earner with no raise in sight. If you're $2,000 shy of where you need to be on a monthly basis to comfortably keep up with the costs of owning a home, then a side hustle may not solve your problem.

While it's true that some side hustles can be lucrative, bringing in an extra $2,000 a month is a pretty tall order. And it may mean not getting to spend any time enjoying the home you've worked so hard to buy because you're constantly working.

A reasonable solution to a point

In some cases, getting a side hustle could set the stage for homeownership. But that won't always be the case. And if you're worlds away from being able to afford a home, then a side hustle may not be the catch-all solution you're hoping it'll be.

If you're not close to being able to buy a home, you may want to rethink your overall financial picture. That could mean going for a certification that will help you boost your income, or making a career switch to a more lucrative field. You may also want to think about relocating to a part of the country where buying a home is less expensive, if you don't see your income growing substantially in the near term.

A side hustle could really do a lot of great things for your finances. But don't be shocked if it does not, in fact, make it possible to buy a home, especially given the state of the real estate market today.

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