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How Much Down Payment Do You Need?

Some people, particularly first time home buyers, feel intimidated at the thought of making a large down payment on a house. Sometimes, too, they feel some confusion about how much will be required.

The size of your down payment will depend on the price of the home you want to buy. It will also depend on your ability to pay, and the type of mortgage you get.

As a general rule, lenders like to see a 20% down payment for a conventional mortgage.  A conventional mortgage is one that is underwritten by a bank, savings and loan , or some other mortgage company.  A 20% down payment on $100,000 home would be $20,000.

If you are selling your current home in order to buy another, you may get enough cash to cover the 20% down payment. If you are a first time home buyer, however, you may have trouble coming up with that much money.

Certain mortgage options allow you to make a smaller down payment. Some lenders, for example, will accept smaller down payments if you buy private mortage insurance (called PMI).

FHA loans require an even smaller down payment, as little as 3-5%. If you qualify for a VA loan, you don't need a down payment at all. Many special loan programs  for first time home buyers also have a reduced down payments.

The principal behind these requirements is simple. lenders know from experience that homeowners who put a substantial amount of their own money into buying a home are less likely to default on the mortgage.

And if the mortgage is secured by an insurance policy (as in PMI) or by the government (as in FHA or VA loans), the lenders feel protected and they are willing to skip the requirement for the large down payment.

Any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to counsel you or recommend a good mortgage broker who can provide the specifics on the various mortgage programs available to you.