Down Payments in 2024

The landscape of home buying has evolved significantly, and this is particularly evident when examining down payment trends in 2024. The median down payment on a home in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2024 was $26,700, which represents about 8% of the median home purchase price at that time. This figure highlights a shift from the traditional 20% down payment that many prospective homeowners believe is necessary. The minimum down payment required for a mortgage can vary greatly, depending on the home’s cost and the type of mortgage.
Despite the belief that a 20% down payment is standard, many mortgages today allow for much smaller initial investments. Some loans require as little as 3% or 3.5%, and certain loans, like VA and USDA loans, have no minimum down payment requirements at all. As of May 2024, the median down payment rose to $60,202, which is about 15.6% of the median home sales price of $384,375 for that month. These variations underscore the importance of understanding the different mortgage options and their respective down payment requirements.
The funding for down payments often comes from a variety of sources. Common methods include personal savings, financial gifts or assistance from family, borrowing from retirement accounts, or selling investments. It’s also important to consider that down payment amounts can vary significantly based on location and the buyer’s age group. For instance, younger buyers, typically aged 25-33, tend to make smaller down payments, averaging around 10%, whereas older buyers aged 59-68 may put down as much as 22%.
While a larger down payment can reduce the amount you need to borrow and potentially lower your interest rates, it’s not always feasible or necessary to aim for the traditional 20%. Smaller down payments can still facilitate homeownership and help buyers avoid the ongoing costs of renting. Moreover, putting down less and entering the housing market sooner allows buyers to start building equity and enjoying the benefits of homeownership earlier. Every situation is unique so please complete our home purchase qualifier on our website and we help you choose the down payment strategy that best fits your needs and goals.

What Is A Convertible ARM?

For first-time homebuyers considering their mortgage options, a convertible adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) offers a compelling combination of lower initial interest rates and monthly payments, along with the flexibility to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage later. This option can be particularly attractive for those seeking initial affordability. However, understanding the specifics of a convertible ARM is crucial to determine if it aligns with your financial needs.
A convertible ARM is an adjustable-rate mortgage that includes a conversion clause, allowing borrowers to switch from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate without refinancing. This option usually becomes available after an initial fixed-rate period of five, seven, or ten years. While there is a small fee associated with this conversion, it can result in more stable and predictable monthly payments for the remainder of the loan term. This stability is advantageous for those who benefit from lower initial rates but prefer the certainty of fixed payments over time.
The operation of a convertible ARM involves an initial fixed-rate period, followed by adjustments at predetermined intervals based on market rates. Unlike a traditional ARM, where the interest rate can fluctuate significantly, a convertible ARM offers the option to lock in a fixed rate upon conversion, typically higher than the initial adjustable rate. This conversion can be a strategic move to avoid the potential risks of rising interest rates and increased monthly payments associated with traditional ARMs.
Ultimately, the choice to opt for a convertible ARM depends on your financial goals and your ability to manage potential rate changes. While the initial lower rates and payments provide an immediate benefit, the flexibility to convert to a fixed-rate mortgage without refinancing offers long-term stability, we recommend that you schedule a consultation with us on our website and we can see what loan program fits your needs.

Market Watch: Rates Trending Down

Mortgage rates have seen a decline across the board this week, providing a glimmer of hope for prospective homebuyers. According to the latest data, rates for 30-year fixed, 15-year fixed, 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), and jumbo loans have all dropped. This slight decrease offers some relief amidst the continuing challenges of high prices and elevated interest rates. Despite inflation cooling somewhat, homebuyers still face significant hurdles in the current market environment.

The Federal Reserve’s recent decision to hold off on changing interest rates at their June 12 meeting highlights the ongoing uncertainty in economic policy. The Fed’s stance of maintaining higher interest rates for an extended period appears increasingly untenable as consumer spending pulls back and economic indicators suggest potential rising unemployment. As the economic landscape evolves, there is speculation that a rate cut could be on the horizon, potentially as soon as later this year. This anticipation adds another layer of complexity for those trying to navigate the housing market.

Deciding to buy a home often transcends economic conditions and is deeply personal. For some, taking on a higher mortgage rate now with plans to refinance later might be a strategic move. This approach allows buyers to start building equity immediately rather than waiting for a potentially more favorable market. While today’s 30-year mortgage rate at 7.05% is slightly lower than last week’s 7.06%, it still means higher monthly payments. However, locking in a rate and starting the journey toward homeownership could outweigh the uncertainties of future market conditions.

Jumbo vs. Conventional Loans

If you’re seeking financing for a home over a million dollars, chances are you have heard these options: jumbo loans and conventional loans. A conventional loan, typically offered by private lenders, is what most people think of when considering a mortgage — a fixed interest rate loan covering most of a home’s purchase price. While a jumbo loan technically falls under the conventional loan category, it is distinct in several key ways, particularly in the amount of money it allows you to borrow.

What Defines Jumbo and Conventional Loans?

A conventional loan is not backed by the federal government but instead originated, financed, and guaranteed by private lenders. These loans can be either conforming or nonconforming. Conforming loans meet the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requirements, including loan size limits that vary by state and county. For 2024, the conforming loan limit is $766,550 in most areas, rising to $1,149,825 in high-cost areas. Conforming loans can be bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reducing lenders’ risk. Jumbo loans, on the other hand, are nonconforming due to their size. They are necessary for purchasing high-priced homes exceeding conforming loan limits, allowing borrowers to secure larger amounts — often up to $3 million or more.

Comparing Jumbo and Conforming Loans

Though both jumbo and conforming loans are conventional, they have significant differences. Jumbo loans require a higher credit score (minimum 700) compared to conforming loans (minimum 620). The down payment for jumbo loans is also larger, typically 20-25%, while conforming loans may require as little as 3-5%. Debt-to-income (DTI) ratios for jumbo loans are stricter, and borrowers need substantial cash reserves, sometimes up to 12 months’ worth. Interest rates on jumbo loans are generally higher due to the increased risk to lenders, although competitive rates are still available, influenced by broader economic factors and individual financial profiles.

Choosing the Right Loan for You

Deciding between a jumbo and a conventional loan depends on your financial situation and home-buying goals. Jumbo loans are ideal for purchasing luxury homes or properties in high-cost areas, especially if you have a high income, excellent credit, and can afford a significant down payment. Conforming loans are better suited for moderate-priced homes within local loan limits, particularly if you have a lower income, less savings, and need a smaller down payment. Of course feel free to schedule a consultation with us on our website and we can help review the differences and requirements of each loan type will help you make an informed decision tailored to your specific needs.

VA Loans – Pros and Cons

VA loans, backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), offer eligible active-duty military members, veterans, and surviving spouses a unique path to homeownership. These loans come with a variety of benefits, making them an attractive option for those who qualify. However, like any financial product, they also have their drawbacks. Understanding the pros and cons of VA loans can help potential borrowers make an informed decision.

One of the most significant advantages of a VA loan is that it requires no down payment. Unlike conventional mortgages that often demand at least 20 percent of the purchase price upfront, VA loans enable eligible borrowers to buy a home without any initial cash investment. This feature alone makes homeownership accessible to many who might otherwise struggle to save for a down payment. Additionally, VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is typically mandatory for conventional loans with less than 20 percent down. This can result in substantial monthly savings for VA loan borrowers.

Another benefit of VA loans is the generally lower interest rates and fees compared to conventional loans. Lenders often offer more favorable terms to VA loan recipients, leading to long-term savings on interest. The VA also limits the amount that lenders can charge for origination fees, helping to keep closing costs manageable. Furthermore, VA loans come with more lenient qualification requirements, making it easier for individuals with lower credit scores or past financial difficulties to secure financing. The VA even provides convenient refinancing options, such as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), which simplifies the process and reduces costs.

However, VA loans are not without their drawbacks. One notable disadvantage is the funding fee, which can range from 1.25 percent to 3.3 percent of the loan amount, depending on the borrower’s down payment and loan history. This fee can be financed into the loan, but it still increases the overall debt. Additionally, VA loans impose property restrictions, limiting purchases to primary residences and often excluding investment properties and certain types of housing like manufactured homes. Lastly, because VA loans typically require no down payment, borrowers start with less equity in their homes. This can be a risk if property values decline, potentially leaving homeowners owing more than their property is worth.

In conclusion, VA loans offer significant benefits, including no down payment, no mortgage insurance, and lower interest rates, making them an excellent choice for eligible borrowers. However, potential applicants should also consider the funding fee, property restrictions, and the slower equity buildup associated with these loans. If you are a veterans or active-duty service member we can help you decide if a VA loan is the best fit for their home financing needs.

Mortgage Income Requirements Explained

From conventional to government loans, there are many types of mortgages to suit borrowers with varying credit scores and financial means. While there isn’t a standard baseline income to qualify for a mortgage, you’ll generally need enough income to repay the loan. Understanding how qualifying for a mortgage works and how your income can impact the decision is crucial for prospective homeowners.

There is no single, universal income requirement to qualify for a mortgage. It all depends on the amount you need to borrow, current interest rates, and the type of loan you’re applying for. Rather than requiring a specific amount of income, mortgage lenders review your credit and financial information to determine how much mortgage you qualify for and whether you can afford the monthly mortgage payment. Lenders evaluate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to determine these answers.

Your DTI ratio, also known as the “back-end” ratio, is a measure of gross monthly income against monthly debt payments. To calculate your DTI ratio, divide your monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income. While there’s no minimum income requirement for a mortgage, there are parameters around the DTI ratio that vary by loan type. For conventional loans, the DTI should be no more than 36 percent, but it can go up to 50 percent with compensating factors like a bigger down payment or higher credit score. FHA loans typically require a DTI of no more than 43 percent, while VA and USDA loans generally require a DTI of no more than 41 percent.

A low income doesn’t have to keep you from buying a house. Several loan options cater to low-income borrowers. Conventional loan programs like Fannie Mae’s HomeReady and Freddie Mac’s Home Possible offer mortgages with a minimum down payment of 3 percent. State Housing Finance Agency (HFA) loans often have low down payment requirements and provide closing cost or down payment assistance. FHA loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, have more lenient credit score and DTI ratio requirements. VA and USDA loans, which are government-guaranteed, have no down payment requirement for those who qualify. If you are in the market and aren’t sure how much you qualify for – just go to our website and fill out our purchase quick app and we can schedule a consultation.

Buying A Home With All-Cash Or A Mortgage

As of March 2024, the National Association of Realtors reported that 28% of home purchases were made with all-cash offers. This significant portion of the market reflects a growing interest in forgoing traditional mortgage financing. However, the decision to pay in cash shouldn’t be made lightly. There are distinct advantages to all-cash acquisitions, yet there are also critical financial and strategic factors to consider before foregoing mortgage opportunities.

Advantages of Buying with Cash
One clear advantage of an all-cash purchase is the leverage it may provide in a competitive real estate market. Sellers often prefer cash offers because they promise a quicker and more secure transaction without the risk of buyer financing falling through. Additionally, cash buyers avoid many of the fees associated with obtaining a mortgage, such as origination fees and other lender charges, and they also sidestep the ongoing financial commitment of mortgage payments, potentially saving on long-term interest costs.

Financial Implications and Limitations
However, using cash for a home purchase also means a significant amount of money is tied up in one asset, which can restrict financial flexibility. The absence of a mortgage eliminates potential tax benefits associated with mortgage interest deductions, which can be significant for those in higher tax brackets. Furthermore, investing a large sum in a home could mean missed opportunities to invest that money elsewhere where it might generate higher returns, particularly in a strong stock market or other investment avenues.

Strategic Financial Considerations
When deciding whether to make a cash offer or pursue a mortgage, potential buyers should consider several factors. The nature of the local real estate market is crucial; in highly competitive areas, a cash offer might be necessary to secure a property. However, in markets where buyer competition is less intense, the benefits of retaining cash and opting for a mortgage might outweigh the advantages of an all-cash deal. It’s also essential for buyers to assess their overall financial picture, ensuring they maintain enough liquidity for other personal and financial obligations.

The choice between buying a home with cash or using a mortgage depends on personal financial situations and market dynamics. This decision should be approached with a comprehensive understanding of both the immediate and long-term financial impacts, balancing the appeal of a quick, uncomplicated purchase against the need for financial flexibility and diversification. Of course if you aren’t sure or would like us to crunch the numbers for unique needs – schedule a consultation on our website.

Mortgage Seasoning?

We know barbecue season is coming, but today we aren’t talking about dry rub season, but mortgage seasoning. If you’re in the market for a new home, you’ve probably heard about the best times to buy based on market trends. However, there’s another important timing factor to consider: mortgage seasoning. This term might seem a bit technical, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Mortgage seasoning is all about how long your money needs to be in your bank account before you use it for things like your down payment and closing costs. Lenders check this to make sure the funds aren’t just appearing overnight. They want to see that you’ve managed this money over a set period, which shows you’re ready to handle the financial commitment of buying a home.

Mortgage seasoning plays a critical role in the loan application process. If your account suddenly shows a large deposit, lenders will want to know where it came from. For example, if you’ve received money from selling stocks or a gift from relatives, you’ll need to provide documentation like a gift letter or proof of your asset sale. This requirement also comes into play if you’re looking to refinance or drop your mortgage insurance, where typically, you might need to have had your mortgage for at least six months.

Why do lenders insist on seasoning? It’s a safety measure to ensure borrowers are financially stable and not just patching up their bank accounts to look good on paper. Most lenders will ask that your funds be ‘seasoned’—sitting in your account—for anywhere from 60 to 90 days before applying for a mortgage. This approach helps them confirm the money is truly yours and wasn’t borrowed temporarily to inflate your financial standing.

For those planning to buy a home, it’s wise to start seasoning your funds early. Shift your money to a savings or money market account as you begin the mortgage preapproval process. Keeping your financial profile steady—avoiding large purchases or additional loans—during this period will make you look more reliable to lenders. By the time you’re ready to make an offer, your funds will be fully seasoned, allowing the lender to process your mortgage smoothly. Of course if mortgage seasoning might apply to you schedule a consultation on our website and we can help you along the way.

HELOC Or Cash-Out Refi

Homeowners looking to tap into their home equity for financial flexibility or to fund large projects often look at two main options: Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) and cash-out refinances. Both of these methods offer unique advantages depending on your financial goals and the amount of equity you’ve built in your home. While a HELOC provides a flexible line of credit, a cash-out refinance allows you to restructure your mortgage under potentially more favorable terms while accessing a lump sum.

The Flexible Nature of HELOCs
A HELOC is ideal for homeowners who need access to funds over a period of time, whether for phased home improvements, education expenses, or other ongoing needs. This type of credit offers a draw period typically up to 10 years where you can borrow as needed and make interest-only payments. After this period, you enter the repayment phase, where you pay back the principal with interest. The flexibility to draw and repay on an as-needed basis helps manage cash flow, but it comes with the risk of variable interest rates, which can lead to fluctuating payment amounts.

Benefits of Opting for a Cash-Out Refinance
On the other hand, a cash-out refinance might be more suitable if you are looking to lock in a lower interest rate than what was initially offered on your original mortgage, or if you want to consolidate debt under a single, stable rate. This option involves replacing your existing mortgage with a new one for a higher amount than you owe, giving you access to a lump sum of cash upfront. It can streamline your finances by combining your mortgage and additional cash into one payment. However, it’s important to consider that this could extend the term of your loan or potentially lead to higher total interest costs over time.

Comparing HELOC and Cash-Out Refinance
When deciding between a HELOC and a cash-out refinance, consider your financial situation and what you aim to achieve with the equity. If you require flexibility and might not need to use the entire available sum immediately, a HELOC offers the advantage of borrowing against the equity only as needed. If, however, you need a substantial amount of money upfront and are interested in possibly improving the terms of your mortgage, a cash-out refinance could be more advantageous. This method can also be a strategic move if you’re looking to take advantage of lower interest rates or change your mortgage duration.

Making an Informed Decision
Ultimately, the decision between a HELOC and a cash-out refinance should be based on your current financial needs, your comfort with possible payment fluctuations, and your long-term financial goals. A HELOC offers more flexibility with access to funds, while a cash-out refinance provides a lump sum with a potentially more favorable mortgage arrangement. If you would like to review your options and see what fits you particular schedule a consultation on our website and we can help crunch the numbers and what works for you!

Prepay Your Mortgage?

When you secure a mortgage, it typically means committing to a long-term payment plan that can last several decades. However, it’s possible to shorten this timeline by making additional payments towards your loan. Prepaying your mortgage means more than just getting ahead on payments; it fundamentally changes how quickly you can free yourself from this debt. This blog post delves into what it means to prepay your mortgage, the potential savings, and how to navigate the associated benefits and drawbacks.
Understanding Mortgage Prepayment
Prepayment of a mortgage involves paying extra amounts towards the loan principal beyond the regular monthly payments. By directing extra funds to the principal rather than the interest, you accelerate the loan’s payoff timeline and reduce the total interest paid over the life of the loan.
Calculating the Impact of Extra Payments
Using a mortgage amortization schedule calculator can illustrate the effect of extra payments. By selecting the option to make additional payments, borrowers can see how even modest increases in monthly payments can lead to substantial savings. For example, adding just $25 to the monthly payment can shorten the loan term and reduce interest costs by nearly $20,000. These tools help borrowers make informed decisions about how best to manage their mortgage payments.
Considerations Before Making Extra Payments
While the financial benefits of prepaying a mortgage can be significant, there are considerations to weigh. Making extra payments means less cash available for other financial goals or emergencies. There’s also the potential of a prepayment penalty, a fee some lenders charge for early loan payoff. Additionally, tying up funds in home equity means reduced liquidity. Before deciding to prepay your mortgage, it’s crucial to evaluate your overall financial situation, including other debts, retirement savings, and your emergency fund status.
Prepaying your mortgage can be a financially advantageous strategy for many homeowners, but it’s not suitable for everyone. By carefully considering your financial health and long-term goals, you can make a decision that best supports your overall financial well-being. If you want a professional consultation to see what best fits your needs use our easy scheduler on our website and we can do a call, zoom or meeting.