Qualified Home Loans

Is Down Payment Assistance Right For You?

Buying a home is a big decision and can often be daunting, especially for first-time homebuyers. One of the biggest challenges facing first-time buyers is coming up with a down payment, typically 20% of the home’s purchase price. However, options are available that require a lower down payment, such as down payment assistance (DPA) programs. Many first-time buyers believe there are special programs that will help them. That can be true in theory, but it is far from the truth in practice. Very rarely is there a magic program that will offer you a good deal with no down payment. While DPA programs exist, our experience is that the drawbacks usually outweigh the benefits. 

Down payment assistance can be more costly for a few reasons:

  1. Higher interest rates: Down payment assistance programs typically require borrowers to pay higher interest rates than if they were using a traditional mortgage. This is because the lender is taking on more risk by lending to someone who needs the means to make a substantial down payment.
  2. Additional fees: Some down payment assistance programs charge additional fees, such as mortgage insurance or origination fees, which can add to the overall cost of the loan.
  3. Limited options: Down payment assistance programs often have more stringent requirements than traditional mortgages, such as minimum credit scores or income limits. This can limit your options and make finding a loan that meets your needs more difficult.
Instead of spending money on higher fees and rates, we much prefer our clients use their money to establish equity and set up for long-term success.

Some alternatives, for example, allow borrowers to put down as little as 3.0% of the purchase price, offering better options for first-time buyers. One such loan option is a conventional loan with a 3.0% down payment requirement. With a conventional loan, borrowers can avoid the higher interest rates and additional fees associated with down payment assistance programs. Additionally, borrowers with good credit scores will have lower rates and mortgage insurance costs, making it a much more ideal option.

Here is a side-by-side comparison:

DPA3.0% down
Down Payment$0.00$11,250.00
Loan Amount$375,000.00$363,750.00
Loan Costs$6,250.00$995.00
Real Estate costs$6,250.00$6,250.00
Credit from Seller$ (7,000.00)$ (7,000.00)
Estimated Money Due at Closing$5,500.00$11,495.00
Mortgage Insurance$171.88$106.09
Total Pmt*$2,761.91$2,375.42
*Does not include hazard insurance or property taxes

Another option for first-time buyers is an FHA loan, which the Federal Housing Administration backs. FHA loans require a down payment of just 3.5% and have a more lenient credit score and income requirements than conventional loans. However, borrowers with FHA loans are required to pay mortgage insurance premiums, which can add to the overall cost of the loan.

Overall, loans with a 3.0% or 3.5% down payment requirement can be an excellent option for first-time buyers struggling to create a larger down payment. By reducing the upfront cost of buying a home, these loans make homeownership more accessible. However, it’s essential to work with a trusted lender and carefully consider each loan option’s costs and benefits before deciding.  A dedicated lender will find the right loan for your specific needs and circumstances.