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On occasion consumers will ask us “what is the optimal down payment amount for a home purchase?” The answer to that question depends on the circumstances of the borrower, but the following are some rules of thumb to follow:

25% down or more:

In some cases, such as when a borrower is selling a current home and buying a new home, borrowers will have more than 25% down. There are several advantages to having a larger down payment like this:

    – Lower loan amount means a lower monthly payment
    – Putting more than 20% down means no private mortgage insurance (PMI) required
    – At 25%+ down the interest rates tend to be the lower than with smaller down payments

20% down:

The benefits of 20% down mostly match the 25% down but rates tend to be a little higher with the 20% down option

10% down:

With 10% down borrowers normally are required to include PMI in the monthly payment (except with VA loans). The rates tend to be pretty similar or even sometimes slightly better than the 20% down option because the PMI reduces the risk to the loan investors. The other advantage of 10% down is buyers are allowed to get up to 6% seller concessions with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conventional loans. With less than 10% down the maximum seller concession amount for Fannie/Freddie loans is 3%.

5% down:

With 5% down all of the government-backed loan programs are still available (assuming a primary residence purchase). PMI is required and the lower the down payment on Fannie/Freddie loans, the higher PMI rate. But this is a good option for many families

3.5% down:

The FHA requires a 3.5% down payment. The FHA program remains the most popular loan program for first time home buyers due in part to its lower down payment requirement, and in part due to its leniency with credit issue. FHA tends to have marginally lower rates than conventional loans too. The primary drawbacks of the FHA programs (compared to a 5% down Fannie/Freddie loan) are that the FHA requires a non-trivial up front fee that is rolled into the loan and the monthly PMI on an FHA loan lasts all 30 years rather than dropping off when you get to 20% equity as with Fannie/Freddie loans.

0% down:

For borrowers who want to do zero down payment the options become more limited and more costly. The USDA and VA programs allow for no money down but both come with restrictions and caveats that exclude a large portion of borrowers (see here for more on that). You’ll often see advertisements from lenders for no money down programs but these “down payment assistance programs” programs are usually just FHA loans with assistance with the 3.5% down and they invariably come at a cost — usually in the form of much higher interest rates and higher fees. The problem with that is they can cost you much more in the long term.

What’s the best bet for those struggling with a down payment?

For borrowers struggling to come up with a down payment, and who are not good candidates for the USDA or VA mortgage programs, the best bet is normally to figure out a way to come up with at least 3.5% down on their own — either through their own savings or from family member help. By coming up with 3.5% to 5% down on your own you get the benefits of an FHA or Fannie/Freddie loan without having the burdensome extra costs and significantly higher interest rates that are associated with these so-called “grant programs” or other down payment assistance.

For more information contact us today on our home purchase page.

Comments (0) Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Thursday, October 25th, 2018