Toro Credit Union

House Shopping: Devise a Down-Payment Plan

by Dianne Molvig / April 25th, 2019


Are you thinking about buying a house in the next year or two? Most Americans still believe that buying a home is a good financial investment, according to the 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey, conducted by the National Association of Realtors. Eight out of ten respondents feel that paying off a mortgage and owning a home by the time you retire was a primary motivation for buying a home, and they consider it a good way to build wealth and increase net worth.

How much do you need for a down payment?

Before 2008, many lenders offered zero-down-payment on mortgages to prospective homeowners. Then came the housing market crash and the Great Recession. As a result, lending guidelines became stricter. You still may find some zero-down-payment mortgages available from quality lenders. Just expect to pay a premium in the form of a higher rate on the loan and/or higher fees, says Tracy Ashfield, President of Ashfield & Associates, Madison, Wis., a mortgage consulting firm that assists credit unions.

"That's why we stress so much to folks that it's important to accumulate some down payment," she says. "You'll get a more competitive mortgage product that will help you keep your monthly payments down." That will save you a lot of money in interest over the life of your loan. "Sit down with your lender as soon as you can," Ashfield advises, "even if you're a year or 18 months away from buying." With your lender, you can go over your income, savings, other assets, and credit score. From there, you can figure out a reasonable down-payment goal. "Maybe you've accumulated a 5% down payment," Ashfield notes. "Or maybe it makes more sense to pay 3% down and use some of your money to pay discount points to buy down your rate a little bit." (Discount points are fees you pay a lender at closing to reduce your interest rate. A point is 1% of the amount borrowed.)

Your best strategy depends on your complete financial picture. Your lender can help you select a down payment and other mortgage features that best fit your financial situation. (Note: If your down payment is less than 20%, you'll generally pay for private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender against losses. That adds to your monthly mortgage payment.) 

Where will you get your down payment?

 



NCUA Equal Housing Lender
Printed Monday, July 22, 2019

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