Personal Finance

Insane things people will or won’t do for a free home

Key Points
  • From fast food only to zero communication, most would give up plenty for a free dream home. 
  • Unlike buying a car or paying for a vacation, home buying is clearly an emotion-fraught enterprise. 
Peter Zelei Images | Getty Images

There's always a catch.

For instance, someone offers you your dream home — whether it's a villa in Tuscany or a Palm Springs mid-century ranch — at zero financial cost to you.

But you'd have to give up a beloved pet, or turn down a fantastic job. Or cheer for the Cleveland Browns, who didn't win a single game in 2017.

Here's what people will and won't do for that opportunity, according to a survey from United Wholesale Mortgage. To get an idea of how much Americans value the idea of a dream home, the residential lender surveyed 1,002 homeowners and non-homeowners online in May.

A willingness to survive on fast food alone was no surprise to Mat Ishbia, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage in Pontiac, Michigan, who said he'd gladly do that.

But sharply curtailing communication with friends and family was unexpected. "You wouldn't be able to show off that dream home," Ishbia said.

All kidding aside, buying a home requires research and a firm grip on your finances. Two-thirds of Americans expect home prices to rise in their area, according to a Gallup poll.

Two factors — a dip in housing supply and the increasing number of people carrying student debt — could make home-buying even more difficult.

The median home price in the U.S. is now $217,300, and rising interest rates — combined with the economy and inflation — will have some impact on fixed mortgage rates as well.

Chances are, most people have some vision of what a dream home would look like. Taking the steps to make that a reality can be another story.

Lack of certainty is the biggest emotional roadblock to buying a house. "You fear what you don't know," Ishbia said.

People often make guesses about what they need to qualify for a mortgage, and statements that begin with "I heard … may be tip-offs to their lack of knowledge," he said.

Housing confidence hits record high as prices skyrocket

From high credit scores to hefty down payments, gaps in knowledge can create emotional barriers to looking for more information, Ishbia said.

A good place to start: talk to a local mortgage expert to find out what you can afford. Once you know your price range, you can plan a budget and start shopping.

Getting a mortgage is not like buying a car or paying for a vacation.

"It's an emotional process, and one of the biggest financial decisions you'll make," Ishbia said.

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