First-Time Home Buyer's Guide to Down Payments


Buying your first home is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that takes a lot of research and preparation. One crucial point to consider is your down payment — the sum of money you pay for your home. This amount impacts your mortgage and determines how much home you can afford. However, you may not need to save as much money as you think, and you'll find that options exist for all kinds of home buyers.

Below is a handy down payment 101 guide to help make your home purchase a bit easier.

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Things to Know About the Home-Buying Process

As a first-time home buyer, you have several factors to consider as you shop for your house. Here are the most important points to understand about how to buy a house:

  • Knowing how much you need for a down payment: The down payment is how much money you put toward purchasing your home, whether it be $10,000 or $50,000. To complete the sale, your mortgage lender will loan you the rest of the money, which you'll pay off in the form of a mortgage over time. For example, if the home you're purchasing is $200,000 and you put $20,000 down, you will only be taking a mortgage out on the remaining $180,000.
  • Deciding on your budget: Knowing exactly what kind of home you can afford is essential to ensure you make a smart financial decision. Take a close look at your income, credit, and debt to understand what you can reasonably afford in terms of monthly home payments. Use that information to build a budget.
  • Finding out if you need to purchase mortgage insurance: Typically, people who make small down payments must also get mortgage insurance. The rates for mortgage insurance vary depending on your credit score and total down payment.
  • Exploring first-time homeowner programs: There are a variety of homeowner programs for first-time home buyers. Explore all of your options to see whether one suits your situation.
  • Finding a real estate agent: Assuming the agent is experienced, and understands your wants and needs, they can help you negotiate various offers and guide you through the closing process.
  • Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage: Getting a pre-qualification letter shows that a reputable lending company will lend you a certain amount of money to purchase a home. With that letter in hand, sellers know you're a serious buyer and you can cover the costs associated with the purchase of your first home.
  • Choosing the perfect location: Once you have a better idea of your budget, you can start narrowing down where you want to live. Pay attention to trends in home value so you have an idea of how your home may increase in value over the coming years.
  • Starting to house hunt: Make a list of all the essentials you'd like in a home in order of priority. Look at which homes come close to meeting your needs in your desired location. A real estate agent can be incredibly helpful here by showing you homes that are about to go on the market.
  • Understanding the contracts: When you find a home you love and the sellers accept your offer, it's time to complete some paperwork. Fortunately, your real estate agent can guide you through the signing process and even negotiate the sale if necessary.

You could potentially make a down payment of as little as 3% depending on your specigfic situation.


How Much Money Do You Need for a Down Payment?

It depends on your financial situation. Many people believe you need a minimum of 20% of the asking price for a down payment on a home, but that's not always the case. Instead, mortgage lending businesses can calculate a down payment based on your needs and budget, and you can access a wide range of loans that require minimal down payments. Therefore, you could potentially make a down payment of as little as 3% depending on your specific situation.

Of course, the more money you put down on a home, the less your mortgage payments will cost. While some people want to save until they can afford a 20% or higher down payment and reduce their monthly payments, others want to go ahead with the home-buying process and make a smaller down payment. Either way, the decision is up to your financial situation and whether you qualify for certain loan programs.


First-Time Home Owner Programs

There are many programs for first-time home buyers who don't own any rental or investment properties. Take a look at some of the following options:

  1. Government-backed loans: If you meet the qualification criteria, the government may help you finance your home purchase even when you have a lower credit score. Federal Housing Administration loans and United States Department of Agriculture loans are two examples.
  2. Veterans Affairs loans: If you're a military veteran or active military personnel, Veterans Affairs loans have exclusive benefits and allow you to purchase a home more affordably.
  3. Good neighbor next door: These programs are specifically for law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and teachers. If you qualify, the Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a massive discount on select homes.
  4. Tax deductions: Both federal and state tax deductions can help offset the cost of buying a home. Check the offers available from your local and state governments for a complete overview of the options provided.

These examples represent just a few of the programs available to first-time home buyers. Explore all the options applicable to you to find the perfect fit, and you're one step closer to finding the perfect first home.


Speak With an Expert to Find the Best Loan for You

A new home opens up an exciting opportunity to build equity, create a better credit rating, and make a long-term investment in the future. It's a massive decision, and you need to be able to trust the experts you work with to guide you through the process and get you exclusive loan products and lower rates.

Mortgage Center can help you find the perfect fit for your budget and requirements. With us on your side, you know you're backed by a team of professionals who can offer you their comprehensive experience in mortgage lending and borrowing. Contact us today for more information!

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