Struggling to Find a Home in Today's Market? 3 Options to Look At

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on June 14, 2021

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A man and woman touring the bright living room of a home with their realtor.

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It's a tough market, with limited inventory. Here's what to do if you're frustrated with your house hunt.

Though mortgage rates are extremely competitive right now, it's not necessarily a great time to buy a home, for one big reason -- there just aren't enough homes on the market. Housing inventory is at a record low, which means if you're in the market for a new home, you may struggle to find one that works within your budget or meets your needs. Rather than spinning your wheels, consider these options.

1. Search in a different neighborhood

You may have your heart set on a given neighborhood -- maybe you grew up there, have friends who live there, or you've heard great things about the school system. But if you're struggling to find a home you can afford in your target neighborhood, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Buying a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood could work to your advantage, because chances are, you can find something at a much more affordable price point. Then, as more people move into the neighborhood and it undergoes further development, the value of your home could soar.

2. Consider a fixer-upper

You may want to buy a home in great condition that doesn't need a lot of work. But if you have a hard time finding one in this housing market, you may want to make an offer on a fixer-upper instead. The upside of this route is that you'll not only pay less, you may get to customize its features to really suit your taste.

Say you find a fixer-upper that needs a complete kitchen redo. Rather than bemoan that, look at it as an opportunity to design your dream kitchen, complete with the appliances and countertops you choose. While that kitchen remodel will cost you, you're likely to save that much via a lower purchase price for that home.

3. Look at a townhouse or condo

Maybe you're in the market for a detached, standalone house. But if you struggle to find one, a townhouse or condo could be your ticket to becoming a homeowner. Not only are townhouses and condos generally less expensive than standalone homes, there's also less maintenance you have to do yourself, since exterior work is usually covered by your homeowners association.

Of course, the downside of buying a townhouse or condo is that you almost always have to pay a homeowners association fee every month. But if you spend less on a townhouse or condo and therefore take on a lower mortgage payment, you may find that there's plenty of room in your budget to cover those monthly dues.

Right now, a lot of buyers are frustrated with the state of the housing market. If that sounds like you, you may want to put your home search on pause and wait for inventory to increase. But if you need to buy sooner -- say, your lease is expiring -- then it pays to expand the scope of your search. The more flexible you are, the greater your chances of finding a home in today's crazy market.

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