How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy a House?

Written by Chloe GoodshoreSeptember 26th, 20224 minute read

You can buy a house as soon as you're old enough to legally enter contracts. In the U.S., that's typically when you turn 18, or whatever the age of majority is in your state.

If you’re under 18, you may still be able to buy a house if a parent cosigns with you. But even if you are 18, you may have a hard time getting a house because of your age. Start by asking yourself a few questions:

How hard is it to buy a house when you’re 18?

Buying a house when you’re 18 (or even a little older) can be a challenge if you don't have sufficient credit, income, or cash on-hand.

» FIND: Try Clever Real Estate’s free matching service, connect with top local agents today!

Credit score

But in most cases, it takes time to build good enough credit to buy a house. Since you can’t get a credit card or loan as a minor, most 18-year-olds don’t have much credit history ― or the kind of credit score you need to get a home loan.

💡Editor's note

You may have a small start on your credit score if:

  • You're an authorized user on a parent's credit card
  • You've started to make student loan payments

Income

Having enough income to simply cover a monthly mortgage payment isn’t enough. When lenders will look at your loan application, they’ll expect you to spend less than one-third of your income on mortgage payments.

» LEARN: Debt-to-income (DTI) Ratio Requirements for a Mortgage

Cash

You'll need enough cash up front to cover closing costs and a down payment. Buyer closing costs typically run 3–5% of a home's purchase. Most loans also require at least a 3% down payment, but 20% down will get you lower monthly payments and a better interest rate.

The median house value in the U.S. is $357,810. You'd have to bring a down payment of up to $71,205 (20%), plus up to $17,801 extra (5%) to the closing table. That's over $89,000!

🏡 Start house hunting: Try Clever Real Estate’s free agent matching service, compare top local agents, and start searching for your dream home today! Get started.

How do you know you’re ready to buy a house?

Whether you’re 18 or 80, you should meet some basic criteria before you buy a house:

  • Enough income to cover a mortgage
  • Enough savings to cover a down payment and closing costs
  • 36% or lower DTI ratio after getting your house
  • 620 or higher credit score
  • Stable enough lifestyle to stay in your house for at least a few years

Before you buy, remember that (according to a 2022 study of home buyers) 72% of buyers have regrets about their home purchase ― like spending too much or buying too quickly. If you want to avoid those kinds of regrets, make sure homeownership is a good fit for this stage of your life.

Should I buy a house when I’m young?

No matter your age, just because you can buy a house doesn’t mean you should. Homeownership has pros and cons ― especially when you’re young.

Pros

🏗 Making mortgage payments gives you an easy way to build good credit. Just keep paying on time, and you should see a positive effect on your credit score.

📈 Homeownership early on can be a solid investment in your future. Homes often appreciate (go up in value) over time. As you pay off your mortgage, you’ll build equity that you can use to finance other expenses.

🏡 Having a home can give you peace of mind. You won’t have to worry about bad landlords or roommates. You may feel more stable and in control when you own a house. Those psychological benefits can be worth a lot.

Cons

💰 Buying and owning a house costs a lot. You need cash for the down payment and closing, and you have to make monthly payments. Plus, you’ll need to budget for maintenance costs and other ownership expenses.

🔒 Buying a house is a big commitment. It costs a lot, yes — but it also makes moving (like for a job or a partner) harder. Plus, you’ve got all the labor that comes with owning a home.

💰 Quick Tip: How to save as a first-time home buyer

  • Find your realtor with a free matching service like Clever Real Estate, which offers cash back (up to 0.5%) for buyers as a bonus.
  • Look for first-time home buyer grants that help with closing costs and down payments.
  • Shop around for your lender to find the best deal. Remember to compare interest rates, loan fees, and point costs to get the full picture.

Next steps: Getting ready to buy a house?

Whether you plan to buy now or wait a few years, you can start preparing to buy a house now.

  • Learn how to buy a house for the first time so you’ll be ready for the process.
  • Work on your credit score by applying for and making installment payments.
  • Start saving for a down payment.