Do you ever look at a homeowner and wonder, “What illegal crime did you commit to save for a home down payment? And would you say it was worth the risk?”

If you answered yes, then you are not alone.

Or try this analogy pop quiz: To save for a home down payment is to “________.” If you responded with: “To ride a unicorn everyday to and from work,” then once again — you are not alone.

New Home Goal
73% of americans agree that owning a home is a major milestone

Americans are renting, but want to own homes

We see the reports everywhere: the number of rented U.S. households is at highest point since 1965. This is due in part to the residual effects of the economic downturn and ensuing housing crisis.

Millennials continue to be the most likely age group to rent, which makes sense — buying a home requires a sizable amount of money for a home down payment.

To take a closer look, we conducted a survey with our parent company John Hancock. Despite the financial challenges facing home ownership, it remains a primary goal for many Americans.

In fact, 73 percent of respondents overwhelming agreed that owning a home one day is a major milestone.  

The down-low on home down payments

A common rule of thumb for your home down payment is 20 percent down, while most conventional mortgages require at least 5 percent down.

Five percent may not sound like much, but let’s just consider that the median home price in the United States is approximately $200,000. That means the median home down payment could range from $10,000 to $40,000.

20% down is the common rule of thumb for a home downpayment

Clearly, buying a home isn’t an impulse buy; it requires planning and a serious commitment to saving (read: so much adulting).

So we when conducted our survey, we looked at people who intend to purchase a home in the next five years, and asked them how much they planned to put down and how much they had saved thus far.

Unsurprisingly, most are struggling to save.

60 percent plan to put down less than 10 percent for a down payment. 52 percent had saved less than half of what they need for a down payment. While 37% percent had saved less than a quarter of what they need.

Most Americans struggle to save enough for a home down payment

How to (actually) save for a home down payment

First and foremost, don’t let money woes plunge you into the sunken place.

Take a step back and remind yourself that yes, you are capable of saving for a down payment. That dream you have of glorious home ownership can come true — without breaking any laws.  

1. Do your research.

The housing market is not a one-size-fits-all model. The cost of living varies dramatically from state to state (even city to city).

Talk to a realtor or take advantage of home buying sites like Trulia and Zillow to study your local housing market.

2. Set a (realistic) budget.

Thanks to HGTV, we all have visions of dream homes that, in reality, are far too costly. After conducting research into your local housing market, you should have a clearer grasp on what you can reasonably afford.

Which means you’re ready to assess your financial situation and set a realistic budget.

Saving to buy your first home with a partner? Again, you’re not alone. 54 percent of millennials are following suit.

Pro tip: be sure to establish – and agree on – a budget before house hunting. You don’t want to be that couple on House Hunters bickering about budget.

3. Prioritize your wish list.

We tell ourselves that if we just lean in we can have it all, but life likes to remind us that it’s really all about compromise. Or what we like to call “trade-offs.”

Everyday you make trade-offs between cooking dinner or ordering takeout.

The same principle applies to your wish list.

What’s more important: a backyard or an extra bedroom? Prioritize what you absolutely need vs. want — and make sure you and your partner are in agreement.  

4. Create a savings goal today.

It’s never too early to start saving for your home down payment. Begin by assessing your current cost of living to understand how much you can practically save each week or month.

From there, you can calculate how long it will take you to reach your savings goal for a home down payment.

Another pro tip: set up a savings goal in Twine and we’ll share advice on how much you should save and  give you a timeline to track your progress.

5. Trying investing to reach your move-in date sooner.

Consider investing a set amount of money each week or month to really make your money work for you. Music to your ears? Oh hey, it’s us again. Try Twine today and we’ll help you set up an investment goal for a home down payment.

Saving with a partner? Learn how to Twine together to make your dream home a reality.

Save for what matters.

Try Twine


This research was conducted by John Hancock between April 1 to April 23, 2018. The responses were generated from a survey Americans 18+ years of age.