You know you want to buy a house, congratulations! Now comes the hard part – saving money for the house. You know there are different loan programs out there, so just how much money do you need?
We will help you understand the different requirements below.
Difference Between the Down Payment and Closing Costs
First, know that the down payment isn’t the only thing you need to think about when buying a house. You also have to pay closing costs. These are separate from the down payment. The closing costs can add up to as much as 3% – 5% of the loan amount.
Here’s an example. If you plan to put down 20% on a $200,000 home, you would need $40,000 just for the down payment. You would then need between an additional $6,000 to $10,000 for the closing costs. This means anywhere from $46,000 to $50,000 to close on the loan.
Do You Need a 20% Down Payment?
Now here’s the real kicker – you don’t need a 20% down payment. Many people believe this is the only way to get a loan, but it’s not. You can put down as little as 3.5% in some cases. In fact, some loans even allow you to get away with no down payment; you just pay the closing costs! So how do you know how much you need? It depends on the type of loan program you choose.
Conventional loans carry the stigma that you need a 20% down payment, but that’s not the case. Yes, you need 20% down if you don’t want to pay Private Mortgage Insurance, but you can still get conventional financing without that large down payment.
You’ll find conventional lenders that allow you to put down as little as 5% on the loan. This does mean you will have to pay PMI until you owe less than 80% of the home’s value, but it gives you the chance to get conventional financing with its low-interest rates and attractive terms.
If you don’t qualify for conventional financing because your credit score is too low or your debt ratio is too high, you may want to consider an FHA loan. With FHA loans, you only need a 3.5% down payment. The FHA allows lenders to provide you with 97.5% financing.
In exchange for the large loan amount, you’ll pay an upfront mortgage insurance fee as well as an annual mortgage insurance fee. The annual MIP is added to your mortgage payment each month. You pay 1/12th of the annual amount each month. FHA loans don’t offer the option to eliminate MIP after you owe less than 80% of the home’s value, though. You pay the MIP for the life of the loan, so keep that in mind.
If you are a veteran of the military, Reserves, or National Guard, you may not need a down payment on your home. If you are eligible for VA financing and qualify, you can borrow 100% of the home’s purchase price. VA loans only charge an upfront funding fee in exchange for offering this loan to you; they don’t make you pay for mortgage insurance.
It’s important to remember that even with a 0% down payment loan, like the VA loan, you’ll still need the money to pay the closing costs. Lenders will verify these funds just as they would if you were to put money down on the home.
USDA loans are another government loan program that provides 100% financing on your home. The catch with USDA loans is that you must be a low to middle-income family in order to qualify. You also must buy a home in a ‘rural’ area. The USDA has loose guidelines regarding what is rural, so you may be surprised to find the areas that you can live and still get 100% financing. USDA loans do charge upfront and annual mortgage insurance, though, just like FHA loans do.
So how much money you should save to buy a house depends on your situation. Obviously, the more you save, the lower your mortgage payment will be. It’s also the less interest you will pay over the life of the loan. If you don’t have money to put down on the home and cover the closing costs, you may want to consider a government-backed loan, such as the USDA or FHA loan to help keep your costs down as low as possible.