Five Ways to Come Up with a Down Payment
Photo: © Jay Spooner - iStockphoto
Coming up with a hefty down payment can be intimidating, but with a little work and ingenuity you can do it. Here are a few ideas for coming up with the needed cash:
1. Down-Payment Assistance Programs
Many states offer down-payment assistance programs. You must go through an application process and qualify based on income and credit, but if you do qualify, these programs are amazing. Typically you will receive a grant for the amount of your down payment; it's basically free money from the government to encourage responsible citizens to buy their first home.
2. Try to Qualify for an FHA Loan
If you qualify, an FHA loan can make first-time home ownership much easier. FHA-backed loans typically offer more manageable down payments (as little as 3.5 percent compared to the 10-30 percent required for conventional home loans). These loans are subject to credit requirements but sometimes less stringent ones than other loans.
3. Help from Family
If your parents or other relatives are in a financial position to help you purchase your first home, they may be happy to do so. Approach the conversation with a gracious and humble mind frame and don't expect a specific outcome. Emphasize that you are ready to become a homeowner and begin solidifying your financial future, but that you don't have enough cash on hand for a down payment.
Perhaps you are planning to get married in the near future. Instead of asking your parents to help you pay for the wedding, ask for help with a down payment—a smaller, more modest wedding may be well worth becoming a homeowner. As long as the gift is less than $13,000 (or $26,000 for a couple), you shouldn't have to pay income taxes on it, either.
4. Boost Your Income
Instead of looking at your current income and thinking that saving a chunk of money is impossible, ask yourself how you can earn more money. Options include freelancing on the side or getting a job on the weekends working retail or at a restaurant. No matter how you choose to boost your income, the main goal is to continue living on your old income while putting away any extra money.
5. Borrow from Your IRA
While taking out a loan from your retirement account is generally frowned upon and penalized with taxes and early-withdrawal fees, one exception is borrowing from your IRA specifically for a down payment on a house. If you qualify, you can borrow up to $10,000 penalty-free toward a real estate purchase.