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How to save for a down payment on a home: part II

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Last month we explained how to save for your down payment. Now that you’ve done that, it’s time to focus your plan.saving for a down payment on a homeYou already know that purchasing a home is a substantial investment, and you’ll need to ensure you can afford the monthly mortgage payments. You’ll also need to save up enough money for a down payment and other associated expenses, such as closing costs.

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While you don’t always need to supply a larger down payment due to programs and resources now available for qualified borrowers, the higher your down payment is, the better it is for future finances.  Your monthly mortgage payment will be lower and you may qualify for better rates or terms.

A larger down payment allows you to retain full ownership of the home faster and can save you a substantial sum of money through lower interest rates affixed to mortgages.

Determine a goal 
You should take a look at your finances to determine what kind of home is affordable. A financial expert or mortgage loan consultant can help figure out the best budget for your current financial situation. In addition, online calculators can estimate how much house you can afford. Also, a mortgage loan consultant can look at pre-approving you for a home loan to help determine which loan type you prefer or are qualified for, if mortgage insurance will be required and give you an idea of how much the closing costs and total monthly payment will be.

You can also reach out to real estate agents in the area to ask about the average listing and selling prices of homes in different neighborhoods you’re considering. If you know you want to move to a specific area and homes typically sell for $300,000, you can use that information to tailor a down payment goal specifically to that amount. So, a 20 percent down payment, which is on the high end of the recommended 5 to 20 percent down payment, would equal $60,000.

Do a credit check up
During the pre-approval process, you will be able to have your credit score reviewed to see if there is room for improvement. Be sure to go off of this new credit score since many consumer scores you see on websites are not the same as what a lender uses.

Find ways to save 
We also recommend automatically putting a portion of your paycheck into your savings account. You’ll miss the money less if you don’t get a chance to see it in your checking account in the first place!

Another way to boost a savings account is to work more hours/shifts (for hourly employees) or take on another job. Temporarily increasing total income will help you reach your goal and supply a proper down payment for a dream home.

You can cut down on a number of extra expenses in order to start building up savings, just like you would with any savings goal. Eating dinner out, heading to the movies every weekend and purchasing coffee every morning can really add up.

When saving money for a down payment, you should make a list of all expenses that are required, such as rent, food, clothing and monthly bills. All other extra expenses should be listed in order from most to least costly. By cutting out the most frivolous expenses and trimming the fat from there, you can develop a budget that saves a substantial amount of money.

In addition, replacing certain costs with less expensive ones can help significantly. Here are some ideas for cutting your current living costs:

  • Cancel cable and invest in a more affordable streaming service
  • Create your own vending machine stash of snacks at your desk instead of visiting the machine once a day, save $1/day or $20/month
  • Brew your own coffee, save $4/day or $120/month
  • Cut back on one restaurant visit per week, save $25/week or $100/month
  • Drink glasses of ice water instead of new bottles of water (an environmental choice, too!), save up to $1/day or $30/month
  • Carpool once a week, save $6/week or $24/month
  • Skip one impulse buy, save $40/month
  • Cancel your home landline phone service and just use your cell phone, save $50/month

We don’t expect you to adopt all of those suggestions while you’re saving for your down payment (actually, you probably have a few creative ideas of your own that didn’t make our list). However, if you did incorporate those short-term cuts into your life, you could save $400+ a month and $5,000+ a year!

How do you plan to save for your down payment?

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How to save for a down payment on a home: part I

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Purchasing a home marks a significant milestone in your life. We’ve already shared with you the 5 steps to buying a home, but what about before you even begin that process? While searching for the perfect property and finally finding the dream home you’ve been looking for is exciting, saving up the money for a down payment can be a bit daunting.

If you’re interested in purchasing a home, there are a few details to consider. Understanding the process can help immensely when deciding to purchase a home and set aside money for this substantial investment. As an interested buyer, you can become more focused when you know what to expect and how much money to contribute toward ownership of a home. Consider speaking to your trusted mortgage consultant to provide guidance early to help determine what kind of down payment you will need to provide.
saving for a down payment on a home

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The purpose of providing a down payment 
Buying a home often involves acquiring a home loan to afford the purchase. This translates into monthly mortgage payments over the course of a set amount of time, during which you pay and become a full owner of your property. Because it is a loan from a mortgage broker, bank or lender, interest is also applied to the amount of money borrowed. So if you purchased a $100,000 home, you would actually pay more because of the interest rate affixed to the mortgage.

A loan serves a fantastic purpose in allowing homeownership to be more attainable for everyone, but fluctuating interest rates may drive individuals to refinance or put off purchasing a home to save more money.

This is the primary purpose of giving the seller a larger down payment when buying a house. If you can supply a larger down payment, you are more likely to be approved for a home loan. You will not have as much to pay off and may even increase chances of obtaining a lower interest rate.

Low down payment options 
There are programs available that allow individuals to qualify for a home loan despite only being able to provide a small down payment. Government-sponsored enterprises, such as Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac, can provide an interested homebuyer with a 3 percent down payment option. However, higher interest rates and other requirements are put in place to help protect the lender. Gifts from family members are also allowed, but check with your loan officer to see what guidelines may apply.

Another agency that makes homeownership more attainable is the Federal Housing Administration. An FHA loan can help offer financial assistance when purchasing a home through a variety of programs such as fixed-rate FHA loans for people purchasing their first home. There is an option for everyone that will make navigating through the real estate industry easier.

An FHA-backed loan protects a lender in case a borrower is unable to continue with his or her mortgage payments. By providing this insurance, qualified buyers who have a difficult time providing a larger down payment or have a lower credit score due to debt accumulated during his or her education can still become homeowners.

Another way the amount of your down payment can affect your total monthly payment is when mortgage insurance is added, often referred to as PMI (private mortgage insurance). For example with conventional loans, PMI may be required if you don’t put down at least 20 percent. This protects the lender if the borrower should default on the loan. Even if you put less than 20 percent down, the mortgage insurance cost is lower if you put down 5 percent rather than 3 percent or even lower with a 10 percent down payment rather than just 5 percent.

Additional costs to consider 
Before someone decides to start saving up money, knowing how much to save is a crucial factor one must contemplate. Working with a trusted lender can help guide you and provide information to help determine what loan will be best for you and how much of a down payment will be required.  According to U.S. News & World Report, a buyer will not pay merely the agreed selling price, but also will need to designate funds for additional expenses such as:

  • Closing costs
  • A home inspection
  • Taxes
  • Appraisal fee
  • Credit report fee

In addition, some purchases may require a homeowner’s association fee to be paid as well as private mortgage insurance. Buyers should account for these expenses when creating a budget and starting a basic savings account for this exciting purchase.


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2nd step to buying a home—choosing the right loan for you

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So you’re ready to buy a home, and have finished the first step of pre-approval. Did you know that nearly half* of home purchases are from your fellow first-timers? It can be a daunting process, so we’re continuing the step-by-step approach to help you navigate this important financial decision.

There are many home loan choices. Finding the right lender will be the key to obtaining the information you need to make the right decision. The pre-approval process should have uncovered many of the factors that determine which loan will work best for you and let you know what interest rate you might be paying. Remember, to get a good interest rate, you’ll need as high a credit score and down payment as possible. The right lender will be able to guide you and explain the differences in each of the loans you qualify for.

Here is a general discussion of some of the mortgage loans available, to help prep you for your first meeting with a potential lender. The main differences are the size of the down payment and whether the interest rates can change.

Types of mortgage loans:

Conventional vs.Non-Conventional– One of the first decisions you will discuss with your lender is whether you want a conventional or non-conventional loan, which often depends on the size of your down payment.

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Conventional – A conventional loan typically requires a minimum down payment of 5 percent.  If you put down 5 to 19 percent, private mortgage insurance (PMI) may be required. This insurance protects the lender if you do not repay your mortgage.  Typically, you’ll have to pay this insurance until 78-80 percent of your mortgage is left, and then you may be able to remove PMIfrom your payments.  To avoid that extra insurance from the beginning, you’ll typically have to put down 20 percent or more.

Most first-time buyers choose homes with a median value of $147,000*, but in case you’re wondering, the conventional loan limit in most areas is $417,000. These loans can be fixed or adjustable (more on that in a minute). Conventional loans also allow you to have the seller pay up to 3 percent of your home’s closing costs and prepaid taxes and insurance.

FHA (non-conventional) – FHA loans typically require lower down payments than conventional mortgages, but there are also drawbacks to them. For example, FHA loans require mortgage insurance up front and it is usually more than private mortgage insurance with a conventional loan. Here’s how this type of loan works: The Federal Housing Authority does not actually lend the money but insures 100 percent of what the lender funds. FHA loans tend to be the most flexible in their credit guidelines. They usually allow for lower credit scores, higher debt-to-income ratios and as little as 3.5 percent as a down payment. These loans allow for up to 6 percent seller-paid closing costs and prepaid taxes and insurance.

Veterans Affairs (VA) – The VA loan was designed to offer long-term financing to eligible American veterans or their surviving spouses (provided they do not remarry). The VA loan does not require a down payment and does not require monthly private mortgage insurance.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – This loan is intended to help people purchase homes in rural areas. The property must be located within the USDA Rural Development Home Loan footprint. USDA loans offer 100 percent financing to qualified buyers and allow for all closing costs to be either paid for by the seller or financed into the loan.

Fixed vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages – After choosing a conventional vs. non-conventional loan, it’s time for another decision: do you want a fixed or adjustable rate?

Fixed-Rate Mortgages – Fixed-rate loans are just that, loans that have interest rates that are locked-in for the term of the loan. This means that your rate will not change during the entire time that you have the loan. Keep in mind that even with a fixed interest rate your payment could vary based on changes in taxes or insurance. The repayment of the loan is also spread out, or amortized, over that same fixed period. You can choose from 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year fixed rates. Generally, the shorter the term of the loan, the lower the rate, but also the higher the payment. For example, a 15-year loan will usually have a better interest rate than a 30-year loan, but you’ll have to pay more per month in order to get the mortgage paid off sooner. Therefore, choosing the fixed-rate period will be a large part of determining the amount of your monthly payment.

Adjustable Rate MortgagesThese loans typically allow you to have lower payments at the very beginning, but take on higher risk than fixed-rate loans. There is usually an initial time period (1 to 10 years) where the interest rate is fixed. However, the rate can change after the initial fixed period causing the monthly payment to go up. Be sure to talk to your lender about what type of loan is best for your situation. If any of these factors apply to you, your lender can explain in more detail how an adjustable rate mortgage would work for you. However, an adjustable rate may be a good option if:

  • you plan to sell in a few years,
  • you will pay off the loan early, within the next few years, or
  • interest rates are high right now and are anticipated to decrease in the coming years. (not the case today)

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, remember, your lender is there to walk you through everything. Instead, focus on what your needs are. Then, you can outline with your lender what you’re looking for so he or she can provide your best options.

Arrive at your first lender meeting with answers to the following questions:

  • How much will you have for a down payment?
  • What are your preferred neighborhoods?
  • Do you want to get your loan paid off as soon as possible even if it means higher payments, or do you need lower payments with more time to pay it off?

Choosing the right lender is just one part of your home-buying team. Adding an experienced realtor will save you time and money and will be discussed in step three of buying a home.

*statistic source:

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

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