Which Should You Do First: Save for a Down Payment on a House, or Your Retirement?

Which Should You Do First: Save for a Down Payment on a House, or Your Retirement?

  • Heather Smith
  • 06/8/23

One major question that many potential homeowners have is whether they should save up a down payment for a home first, or for their retirement.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer; instead, it’s about evaluating your options and making the best decision for yourself and your financial future.

So what, exactly, should you be evaluating? A recent article from realtor.com outlined things to consider when deciding whether to put your savings towards a down payment for a home, or stashing that cash in a 401(k) for retirement, including:

  • Do you have an employer match? If your job offers an employer 401(k) match, you will, at the very least, want to contribute the match threshold. For example, if your employer will match your 401(k) contribution for up to 4 percent of your salary, aim to contribute your full 4 percent; otherwise, you’ll miss out on your employer contribution, and will be leaving money (money you’ll definitely want in retirement!) on the table.
  • Will lowering your retirement contributions increase your tax liability? One of the benefits of putting money in a 401(k) is that you don’t have to pay taxes on that income until you withdraw the funds in retirement. If you opt to put that money towards a down payment instead, you’ll end up in a higher tax bracket and need to pay more in taxes. So before you make a decision, make sure the tax liability doesn’t outweigh the down payment saving benefits.
  • How much down payment do you need? While it’s always nice to have 20 percent to put down as a down payment on a home, it’s not always necessary. Before you choose between saving for retirement and saving for a home, look into all available loan options, including low down payment mortgages; if you qualify, you might be able to enjoy the best of both worlds!

Work With Heather

For most families, choosing a new home is the biggest financial decision they will ever make. There are many complicated decisions involved in choosing a home. As one of the top real estate professionals in the local market, I'll negotiate the best prices and terms for you and answer all of your questions as they arise.