20% seems like an awful lot of money to put down on a house these days, especially considering home prices are rising continuously. $20-$30,000 certainly isn’t chump change and it can be difficult for first-time homebuyers to come up with that much of a down payment, but there are other things you can do. If you want to buy but can’t afford the 20% down payment, here are three options.
#1. Get a good understanding of your own finances.
It’s important to have a handle on your own finances so that you know what your budget looks like, where you are spending your money, and what your credit history shows. Get a copy of your credit report and if it’s under 600, try to raise that to at least 680. Pay all of your bills on time, pay down debt as much is possible, and stay current with all bills and debts.
Figure out how much you can actually afford. You’re probably paying some form of a mortgage even if it’s just rent to someone else. So, your budget already has a housing figure built in. Find out if you’re comfortable with this payment or if you can go up. For instance, if you’re paying $1500 a month rent right now and you know you can afford $2000, put that additional $500 each month to save for earnest money deposits, downpayments, and to really know that you can live without that additional $500.
#2. Find out how much you would be paying including taxes, mortgage insurance, and hazard insurance.
The price of the house is never the actual payment that you will be turning in each month. Private mortgage insurance or PMI is often added to low down payment purchases that protect lenders if you cannot fulfill your monthly mortgage obligations. Understand how much this will increase your monthly costs as well as additional property tax and insurance. A $1500 mortgage can easily turn into $2200 when you add all of these additional factors.
#3. Ask your lender about down payment assistance programs.
Because I am a mortgage officer and not a lender with any one particular bank, I have access to hundreds of programs and options for distressed borrowers, low credit score borrowers, and those that have gone through foreclosure or short sale. There are a lot of assistance programs that can offer the down payment as an additional home loan allowing borrowers to put as little as one and a half percent down. There are also USDA loans that require zero down payment, however, they only apply to certain properties.
There are a lot of ways to get you into a house and the most important thing to remember is to call a loan officer that has access to these types of programs. This is my specialty and it’s what I love to do. If you’re worried that you cannot afford the down payment, give me a call. You might be surprised as to how quickly you could be a homeowner.