Homes sales have largely recovered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and wide-spread stay-at-home orders were issued. In fact, some deals are happening so quickly that some real estate agents won’t even let potential buyers who are not pre-approved view a property.
“Home prices remain stable as deals continue to happen with the growing use of new technology tools. Remarkably, 10% of Realtors® report the same level or even more business activity now than before the economic lockdown,” Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Lawrence Yun said.
You may think you absolutely need a downpayment of 10 to 20 percent in order to purchase a home. NAR debunked this myth, however, and explained that 60 percent of homebuyers financed their purchase with less than a 6 percent down payment. First-time homebuyers have a plethora of options, they just need to get creative.
1. Calculate Your Down Payment
An essential part of determining what house you can buy and what your mortgage rate will be is the size of the downpayment you can put down.
According to NAR’s report, “Down Payment Expectations and Hurdles to Homeownership,” in 2019, the median down payment was 12 percent for all buyers, 6 percent for first-time, and 16 percent for repeat buyers.
To calculate your down payment, consider your savings, any profit from selling your current home, as well as your credit. If you’re not at that six percent threshold or want to increase your down payment size to lower your total monthly payment, this is where the creativity comes in.
2. Think About An Additional Funds Source For Your Down Payment
If you’re concerned about the size of your downpayment and wish you could pay closer to 20 percent down to lower your monthly payment, consider these stats about 2019 home buyers from NAR:
- Sixteen percent of all buyers received a gift or loan from a relative or friend towards the downpayment of their home purchase.
- Thirty-two percent of first-time buyers received a gift or loan from a relative or friend towards the downpayment of their home purchase.
- Eight percent of repeat buyers received a gift or loan from a relative or friend to put toward their downpayment.
- Twenty-four percent of Millennials received down payment assistance from a parent or relative.
- A majority of Realtors® – 65% – said that they’ve had clients receive down payment assistance from a parent or relative in the last five years.
“Prerecession, the number of first-time buyers, was higher, in part, because buyers had more options,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota, and broker at Edina Realty.
Some lenders may not want to factor in gift money, but many allow it, so consider this before choosing an institution to provide you with a mortgage.
“Basically, the banks want to make sure that you’re not getting a second loan,” Ray Mignone of Ray Mignone & Associates, a financial planning firm, told The New York Times. “If all of a sudden $50,000 pops into your account, they want to make sure it’s not a loan against the property that they’re going to put a mortgage on.”
3. Check Out Programs Like HUD
The Federal Government established a variety of programs such as HUD to help first-time homebuyers purchase a house. HUD doesn’t give the money directly to individuals, but it does provide grants to organizations that help first-time homebuyers. The HUD website provides a comprehensive list of organizations you can reach out to and see if you’re eligible.
Some state governments also offer down payment assistance. Ohio and Illinois have strong programs, but keep in mind your income is considered to qualify, and there may be a limitation of how expensive the house can be.
If you’d prefer to look inward, you could borrow against your own IRA for a downpayment without a fee, and pay it back by a predetermined deadline.
4. Consider Waiting To Buy Your Home So You Can Save More
Waiting to purchase your home may not be the answer you were hoping for, but sometimes it’s necessary. Calculate your monthly budget and what expenses you can cut. Then, decide how much money you can save each month to put towards a higher down payment on your house. If you’re diligent, you may have a few more thousand dollars saved in just one year.
If you need more time to save, you’re not alone. According to NAR’s report, 32 percent of potential homebuyers are restricted in saving for a downpayment because of their limited income. Twenty-two percent cited rising rent costs as a factor preventing saving, and 15 percent blamed student loan payments.
5. Get Pre-Approved Online
If you are ready to purchase a home and want to signal to a seller that you’re serious, you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage. At REX Home Loans, you can apply online for a pre-approval. REX Home Loan Advisors don’t earn a commission, so REX can offer competitive rates that provide the buyer with the best rate for them.
To get pre-approved, you’ll need to provide:
- Proof of your monthly income
- The sum of your monthly debt payments – this includes any car payments, student loans and credit card minimum payments
- Your credit score
- Your estimated cash down payment
- The price range of the house you want to buy or can afford
Once you’re pre-approved, you’ll know that the banks feel you are ready to purchase a home and for exactly home much.