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Myth: 20% Down Payment Requirement To Purchase Your First Home

You Do Not Need a Large Down Payment to Qualify

According to a recent survey, nearly half of renters overestimate the up front costs of buying their first home. Too many believe they need to put 20% or more toward a down payment when buying a home.

That was most likely the case when your grandparents purchased their first home, but that is no longer the case.

While a 20% down payment is still considered standard, it is not the only option. Fortunately, there are loan programs that contain down payment assistance options that are designed to help first-time buyers who have little, or even no cash saved for a down payment.

In fact, there are many programs that allow buyers to put down as little as 3%. Statistics show that 7 out of 10 first tie homebuyers make a down payment of 5% or less and some first-time homebuyer programs offer NO MONEY DOWN. And as many as 15% of those who have purchased homes within the last 2 years have financed with 0% down.

Perhaps the reason for this supposed myth is due to Private Mortgage Insurance. When you finance a home with less than 20% down, you also have to pay PMI every month until you reach the required equity of 20%. This is true of regular conventional loans, but not for FHA loans which can go as low as 3.5% equity.

At first glance this may seem risky, but the Government wanted more Americans to be able to achieve the American dream. To achieve this and boost homeownership, they created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and began offering government backed loans that were insured against default (insurance to the mortgage company or bank in case the borrower ever defaulted on the loan). This made lending to borrowers with a lower down payment and credit scores a reality.

For instance, the FHA will back a loan for a borrower with a 500-579 credit score and a 10% down payment. If the borrower has at least a 580 credit score, they only need a 3.5% down payment to qualify for an FHA mortgage (borrower may pay more over time). Conventional loans programs offer down payments between 3% and 5%. Veterans, military service members and eligible surviving spouses can get mortgages with a down payment as little as zero.

In an analysis of historical loan data by Laurie Goodman, Jun Zhu, and Taz George with the Urban Institute shows why government-backed investors like Fannie Mae see relatively little risk in qualifying mortgage loans with down payments as low as 3-5%. The data shows that credit is a stronger indicator of default risk than down payment size. The percentage of defaults of 5-10% down loans versus 3-5% down is very similar.

“Of loans that originated in 2011 with a down payment between 3-5 percent, only 0.4 percent of borrowers have defaulted. For loans with slightly larger down payments – between 5-10 percent – the default rate was exactly the same. The story is similar for loans made in 2012, with 0.2 percent in the 3-5 percent down payment group defaulting, versus 0.1 percent of loans in the 5-10 percent down payment group.” – Urban Institute

If you’re in the process of buying a home for the first time, you probably have some questions about the best way to find and finance your dream home. At MortgageRight, our goal is to make sure you have the education and support you need. That starts with dispelling many common myths about mortgages and home buying.

Please contact MortgageRight at 205.776.8401 or Contact@MortgageRight.com for more information.

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Conventional Loans

Conventional (conforming) mortgage loans are financed and insured by private lenders and investors, rather than being insured by the Federal Government (FHA). Conventional loans are often sold to Freddie Mac (FHLMC) or Fannie Mae (FNMA), the largest source of loan funds in the United States, who purchase closed mortgages, freeing up funds so lenders can make more home loans. A conventional loan may also offer the choice to pay homeowners insurance and taxes directly, rather than be included in the monthly payment each month.

A conventional refinance can be a excellent way for FHA homeowners to cancel their FHA mortgage insurance premiums. Rather than refinance with the FHA, homeowners can opt to refinance with a conventional loan instead. This strategy is increasingly popular as home values continue to recover nationwide. The rules are basically the same for refinance as they are for purchase, but the results can prove to be a great way to save money on both the short and long run. Simply call MortgageRight for more info.

Disclosure: Even though a lower interest rate can have a profound effect on monthly payments and potentially save you thousands of dollars per year, the results of such refinancing may result in higher total finance charges over the life of the loan.

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VA Loans

The VA (Veterans Affairs) loan helps service members, veterans and their families become homeowners by providing a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help veterans obtain, retain, or adapt a home for personal occupancy.

VA guaranteed loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies, and not by the VA directly. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is not a direct lender, therefore the loan is made through a private lender and partially guaranteed by the VA so long as guidelines are met. Through the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, VA guarantees a portion of your loan against loss and helps lenders provide you with more favorable financing terms.

The VA loan remains one of the few mortgage options for borrowers who do not have a down payment. VA loans are available to more than 22 million veterans and active military members.

Most members of the military, veterans, reservists and National Guard members are eligible to apply for a VA loan. Spouses of military members who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability may also apply.

MortgageRight is Veteran Owned and Operated and understands the needs and requirements of our veterans. We remain steadfast in honoring their dreams of homeownership.

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Jumbo Loans

A jumbo rate loan is a loan that exceeds conventional or conforming loan limits (the amount Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will buy) and is a great loan for purchasing a high-priced or luxury home. If you have a lower debt-to-income ratio, a higher credit score, and a larger down payment – a jumbo rate loan may be right for you.

In most housing markets that amount is $417,000 and any mortgage more than that is a jumbo mortgage loan. Jumbo loans are available for primary residences, second or vacation homes and investment properties and are also available in a variety of terms.

They are offered in both fixed-rate or adjustable-rate loans and may have higher interest rates than conforming and conforming high-balance home loans. Jumbo loans may also require stricter underwriting and typically require a higher down payment, higher credit score and reserves. Jumbo rate loans have no private mortgage insurance requirements.

The perks of the jumbo rate loan are numerous.