Down Payments 101: Saving for a Home Loan

by Zoryana Rawlins 12/09/2018

If you’re hoping to buy a house in the near future, you’ll want to focus on saving for a down payment.

Down payments are a way to let a lender know that you are a low-risk investment, and a way to save money on interest over the term of your loan.

If you have your other finances in order--a good credit score and stable income--there’s a good chance that making a 20% or more down payment will land you a low interest rate that can save you thousands while you pay off your loan.

How large should my down payment be?

The larger the down payment you can afford, the more money you’ll likely save in the long run. While there are ways to get a loan with no or very small down payments, these aren’t always ideal.

First, if you put less than 20% down on your home loan, you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI. These are monthly payments that you make in addition to the interest that is accrued on your loan.

So, if you don’t put any money down on your home, you’ll accrue more interest over your term length and you’ll pay PMI on top of that.

What affects your minimum down payment amount?

Lenders take a number of factors into consideration when determining your risk. If you’re eligible for a first-time home owners loan, a veteran’s loan, or a USDA loan, your loan can be guaranteed by the government. This means you can likely pay a lower down payment while still receiving a reasonable interest rate.

When applying for a mortgage, be sure to reach out to multiple lenders and shop around for the rates that work for you. Many lenders use slightly different criteria to determine your eligibility to pay a lower down payment.

Other things that affect your minimum down payment include:

  • Credit score

  • Location of the home you want to buy

  • Value of the mortgage

Saving for a down payment

You’ll get the most value out of your mortgage if you put more money down. However, if you’re currently living in a high-rent area, it could mean that it’s in your best interest to get out of your apartment and start building equity in the form of homeownership.

If you want to buy a home within the next year or two, there are a few ways you can help increase your savings.

First, determine how much you need to save. Depending on your housing needs and the current market, everyone will have different requirements. Do some home shopping in your area online and look for homes that are within your spending limits. Remember that you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing (mortgage, property taxes, etc.)

Next, find out what a 20% down payment on that home would be, adjusting for inflation.

Once you have the amount you need to save, remember to leave yourself enough of an emergency fund in your savings account to last you a month or two.

About the Author
Author

Zoryana Rawlins

Zoryana Rawlins is a highly motivated and self-driven REALTOR® who combines a love of the industry with a passion for constant learning and self-improvement. Before getting into the real estate business, Zoryana previously taught at ICA Language School and Foreign Service Institute of U.S. Department of State. She was a very responsible instructor and very attentive to the needs of her students. Her hard work and listening skills helped her students achieve high-level positions. As your real estate agent, Zoryana utilizes up-to-date technology tools to market your property, hosts your Open Houses, uses her negotiation skills to secure the best deal for you as well as smooth and flawless transactions that will ultimately achieve your satisfaction. Zoryana is active with Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®. A lover of all things Virginia, Zoryana lives in Falls Church, Virginia, with her husband Michael, their son Roman and two adorable dogs Tuzik and Michiko.