PROPERTY

How to come up with a house deposit

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Soaring house prices are just one of the reasons first-home buyers are finding it tough to get on the property ladder. Saving a deposit, especially while still paying rent, is another barrier. On average, Australian first-time buyers will now take 4.1 years to save a 20% deposit, according to the Bankwest first-time buyer deposit report.

There are a few things you can do to boost your savings. As rent will probably account for a big chunk of your expenses, it's worth looking for ways to reduce the amount you're paying. Think about moving back in with your parents, living in a share house or compromising by moving further away or living in a smaller place.

Another way to avoid paying rent is to become a house sitter. You can live in a property rent free and you just have to look after the home and take care of the pets. The length of house-sitting stays can be anything from one day to three-plus years, according to aussiehousesitters.com.au, but generally it falls between one week and four months.

deposit for home

You can list your services on a classifieds website like gumtree or you can sign up to a house-sitting site for a fee.

Examples include aussiehousesitters.com.au, happyhousesitters.com.au and houseminders.com.au. Of course you have to be prepared to move around a fair bit and have back-up accommodation for times when you're between house-sitting bookings.

As well as cutting costs, think about how you could generate extra cash. You can pick up odd jobs on sites such as airtasker or freelancer. Popular ways of earning money through airtasker include pick-up and delivery, IKEA furniture assembly, handyman jobs and Airbnb tasks including key drop-off and home cleaning. You don't have to commit to a second job - you can work these types of activities around your schedule.

You could also make money by renting out your equipment.

For example, if you're in Sydney or Melbourne you can rent out your car using carnextdoor.com.au or you can use a site like openshed.com.au to rent out items including a mower, high-pressure cleaner or digital projector.

Another alternative is a "rent to buy" arrangement - also known as vendor finance.

Basically you rent a property from the owner (usually it's more expensive than if you were simply renting) and at the end of a fixed period you'll have the option to buy the property at an agreed price. Your "rent" payments won't necessarily come off the final price - this will depend on your agreement. These arrangements can be hard to come by and you also need to make sure you don't end up paying a premium.

There are quite a few risks in these deals. For example, you don't legally own the property until all the money has been paid. So you can't make any renovations and you will have to provide the owner with access if they want to inspect it.

If you get behind on your repayments you might be evicted and lose the money you've already put towards purchasing the home. You also need to think about whether you'll be able to come up with the money at the end of the agreed term.

It's important to get proper advice before going down this path but it is an option that may work for some first-home buyers.

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Maria Bekiaris is editorial campaigns manager for Canstar and former deputy editor of Money. She holds a Bachelor's degree in business.
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