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Buying a house today costs much more than it did a few years ago, and the expense starts with the down payment.

Many home buyers find themselves with little money left over after purchasing a house. This struggle is humorously highlighted on TikTok, where users post videos of themselves in empty homes with captions like, “When you had just enough for the down payment.”

Shasta Townsend, a real-estate strategist, explains that people often become “house poor” because they lack a clear strategy and get caught up in the excitement of buying a home.

In these videos, people show themselves enjoying their new, unfurnished homes, often eating or napping on the floor. These exaggerated videos highlight the current financial strain of affording a home.

Home prices have soared, with the median price jumping from $313,000 in 2019 to $420,800 in 2024. Mortgage rates are also high, averaging 6.86% as of June 27, up from a record low of 2.65% in January 2021.

A typical down payment is around 20%, which would be $84,160 for a median-priced home today. However, most first-time buyers put down only 8%, while repeat buyers put down 19%.

Townsend likens buying a house without financial preparation to starting a million-dollar business without a plan. To avoid being “house poor,” she suggests not spending more than 30% of your income on housing.

Despite the high costs, 82% of Americans still view buying a home as a good investment.