Even though some new home buyers may want to, they often stay clear of purchasing a home on a whim. From appraisals and inspections to down payments, the upfront cash required can take years to save.
But don’t despair; with any low-down-payment loan available in today’s market, homeowners can have a new set of keys in hand with significantly less cash out the door. But is purchasing a house with little to no money down necessarily a good financial move?
If you’re thinking about down payment options before signing on the dotted line to a new home purchase, here are some things to consider.
Types of No-or Low-Down-Payment Loans
There are several no- or low-down-payment loan options available for a wide array of financial situations.
VA loans: Reserved for active-duty and honorably discharged service members, reserves, National Guard members with at least 6 years of service and spouses of service members killed in the line of duty, loans require 0% down and no private mortgage insurance.
USDA loans: Called the “rural housing loan,” this 0%-down loan is meant to help low- to moderate-income households in eligible areas that are in need of housing but may be unable to qualify for other loans.
FHA loans: With more lenient approval requirements than conventional loans, FHA loans also require as little as 3.5% down. However, mortgage insurance premiums will have to be paid for the life of the loan.
Conventional loans: It’s possible to get a conventional loan with as little as 3% down, but just as with FHA loans, there’s an additional requirement of private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, once you reach 20% equity in the home, this additional cost can be dropped.
Why Put Less Than 20% Down On a New Home?
Many new home buyers have a hard time coming up with a 20% down payment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t handle the monthly mortgage costs.
For example, you may have recently paid off your car loan, leaving you free of debt but also without enough savings to afford a lump-sum payment at the start of your home-buying experience.
Additionally, it could be a gamble to buy a home you plan to sell within a shorter timeframe but if that’s the plan, the cost of a 20% down payment could wash out the savings of a lower monthly payment.
Maybe You Need the Liquid Funds
Whether you prefer a bigger emergency fund, plan to invest liquid assets someplace else or need cash to do a complete home remodel, you may want to protect your liquidity by minimizing the amount of your down payment. It’s your choice when it comes down to your finances.
You Can Keep Your Cash Liquid
Unless you plan to move out quickly, pulling equity out as cash typically requires refinancing – a potentially costly option. A lower down payment can keep more of your cash liquid in case life gets in the way or an emergency requires cash expenditure in the near future. Without this net egg, you might very well put your home and/or living situation in jeopardy.
Less Equity Upfront
The less money you put down, the less equity you will have once the home becomes truly yours. This could mean you can’t take advantage of home equity loans or lines of credit if your home needs repairs for which you can’t afford to pay cash. It could also increase your chances of being in the weeds – owing more than what the home is worth – if the market crashes.