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Innovative Alternatives to Expensive Mortgages: Creative Ways to Buy an Affordable House

Matthew Levy Updated: July 24, 2023 • 5 min read
Ways to Buy an Affordable House

A conventional mortgage is not the only path to owning a house. With recent higher interest rates and rising inflation worldwide, you might be considering other ways to fund a home purchase. By exploring creative real estate financing options, you could unlock new ways to acquire an affordable home that fits your lifestyle and financial needs. Let's delve into these innovative alternatives to expensive mortgages and consider how they could ease your home buying journey.

It's essential to remember that a conventional mortgage is not the only path to owning a house.

Creative Mortgage Financing: Benefits and Potential

When it comes to buying a home, traditional mortgages are likely the first option that comes to mind. However, creative mortgage financing options exist to finance your house purchase. Many of these strategies can even allow you to bypass certain hurdles associated with conventional mortgages, like strict lending requirements and high down payments.

Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is a type of home loan where the interest rate can change over time based on market conditions. It will usually start with a fixed period of lower interest rates, making homeownership more affordable. With this type of loan, you'll have to budget for your monthly payment gradually increasing over time. 

Interest-only mortgages

With this option, you'll pay only the interest on the loan for a specified period, after which you'll begin to pay off the principal. This approach can make the initial years of homeownership more affordable. However, similarly to ARM, you'll need to plan for higher payments down the line.

Balloon mortgages

These loans start with relatively low monthly payments for a set period. After about 5-7 years, your remaining balance will become due all at once — called the "balloon" payment. This can be a suitable choice if you anticipate to receive a big amount of cash in the future like an inheritance or a bonus, but it also comes with risks if the money you expected doesn't come through.

Piggyback loan

A piggyback loan involves taking two loans at the same time. The first loan usually covers 80% of the home's price, while the second loan covers the remainder, reducing or even eliminating the need for a down payment.

While these creative mortgage financing options present potential benefits, each comes with its own risks and considerations. Thoroughly research and possibly seek advice from a financial advisor before deciding, and remember - the goal is not just to buy a house, but to do so in a way that safeguards your financial future.

The goal is not just to buy a house, but to do so in a way that safeguards your financial future.

Creative and Alternative Ways to Buy a House

Traditional mortgages are not the only pathway to owning a home. Various creative and alternative financing methods are available, including the below.

Seller Financing

Seller financing is an agreement where the seller of the home extends a line of credit to the buyer for the purchase, essentially acting as the lender. This method relies heavily on the seller's willingness and ability to finance, making it less predictable than conventional mortgage financing. This can be a viable option if you don't think you can meet the requirements of traditional mortgage lenders, and if you believe the seller is willing and able to provide you with a loan. 


Rent-to-own is another unconventional financing method that provides an option to buy at the end of a specific rental period, typically a few years. During this period, a part of your monthly rent is set aside and contributes to the future purchase of the home. This can be an excellent alternative if you need additional time to improve your credit scores or save up for a more substantial down payment, as it allows you to make gradual progress toward homeownership while already living in your desired home.

Government Loans

Various government agencies provide loan programs to aid homebuyers. For instance, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans require a lower down payment than conventional mortgages, making homeownership accessible for many who can't afford a significant upfront payment. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Veterans Affairs (VA) offer loans with beneficial terms for qualifying individuals, including rural residents and military veterans, respectively.

See our detailed guide on Everything You Need to Know About FHA Loans: Benefits, Requirements and More.

Private Loans

Personal loans extended by individuals or private companies, often have more relaxed criteria than traditional bank mortgages. These loans can offer greater flexibility, though they might come with higher interest rates, and the terms can vary significantly. 



An innovative approach, crowdfunding enables you to gather money from a broad network of people, usually online. Platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter can be used for this purpose. However, the success of this method hinges on people's willingness to contribute, making it less consistent and predictable than more traditional methods, as not many are willing to help you purchase your home, and it would likely need your campaign going viral to be successful. You'd likely need to invest both times and resources in marketing your campaign.

Borrowing from 401(k)

Certain employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement plans allow you to borrow against your savings to fund the purchase of a home. This method provides access to a large sum of money without a credit check, but it's crucial to remember that this money is intended for your retirement - borrowing from it could significantly impact your financial stability in the future.

Borrowing from Family

Family members may be willing to extend a loan to help you buy a house in certain situations. This arrangement could offer more favorable terms than a traditional loan, but it's crucial to manage this professionally, with clear terms and repayment plan, to prevent misunderstandings or disputes.

Each of these methods to finance a house purchase presents unique advantages, risks, and considerations. It's critical to find a solution that not only helps you secure a home, but also aligns with your long-term financial health and goals. Thorough research and consultation with a financial advisor can provide crucial guidance in making this significant decision.

Taking the time to understand these options and align them with your personal circumstances is vital.


In this day and age, traditional mortgages are not the only avenue available for homebuying. Many creative financing options exist, including seller financing, rent-to-own arrangements, government loans, private loans, crowdfunding, and even borrowing from your 401(k). Each of these alternatives comes with its own set of benefits, potential drawbacks, and unique characteristics, offering various options that cater to a wide range of financial situations and homebuying goals.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to buying a house. The best approach depends on your needs, financial situation, and long-term goals. Remember to consult with a professional who understands your financial commitments prior to exploring one of these options. 


Can You Buy a House Without a Mortgage?

Absolutely. As discussed in this article, there are numerous alternatives to traditional mortgages. It's about exploring these options and finding the one that best fits your personal and financial circumstances.

Can you still get homeowners insurance without a mortgage?

Yes, you can definitely get homeowners insurance without a mortgage. Homeowners insurance can help protect your investment and provide a financial safety net in case of damage to the property, regardless of whether it's financed through a mortgage or not. However, it's important to note that while lenders typically require it in the case of a mortgage, but if you own your home outright, it's your decision—a wise one—to maintain homeowners insurance.

Written by Matthew Levy

Matthew is a freelance financial copywriter with 14+ years in financial services. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics with business and finance options and is a CFA Charterholder. He is from Vancouver, Canada, but writes from all over the world.