Repaying Student Loans vs. Saving for a down payment on a house?

I am a recent college graduate, I currently work full-time and I’m also a part-time graduate student in the evenings. I am wondering if anyone has advice on what the best thing is to do as far as paying off my previous student loans versus saving for a down payment on a house. Here are some specifics. I have about $ 18-20,000 in student loans, have no money saved for a house at this point but I am looking to buy townhouse or condo ($ 125,000-150,000) in the next 2-3 years. Even when I’m ready to buy, I probably won’t have the 20 % for a down payment but I could have 10 % and qualify for a 80-10-10 mortgage loan. I am aware that students can get some kind of ‘tax breaks’ with the interest they pay off student loans so would it be better to pay the minimum on the student loans and save more for a down payment or better to wipe out as much student loan debt and invest minimal into the actual down payment? From what I know, student loan debt is not really factored into your FICO score (something used to qualify people for loans, etc). I’m in an entry-level position, only making about $ 22,500 right now but I could be due for a promotion over the next 6-12 months making $ 40,000. I’m living at home again for the time being so my cost of living is very low as I chip in approx $ 200 per month for utilities, etc. Also, I get 75 % off of my current tuition since my employer pays for that; the other 25 % is paid in full on my credit card when the tuition bill comes. I have excellent credit since I paid off a previous car, make my payments on time on my current car and tuition, and pay my credit card off in a timely fashion.

What do you suggest for having the best chance at getting a first-home in 2-3 years? Better to just save as much as possible in a regular savings account or is there a better way to ‘save’ that money (other types of savings, etc)?

Thank you! (sorry for the long question but I figure the more info, the better)

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