Buying a home is the American Dream and one of the most exciting times in a person's life! However, for many first-time home buyers, one thing often stands in their way...a down payment. The long-lived myth that you need a 20% down payment to purchase a home is just that...a myth. There are several loan programs that require less than a 20% down payment: Conventional (5%), FHA (3.5%), USDA (0%) and VA (0%); however, home buyers can also get help through Down Payment Assistance programs!
Down Payment Assistance (DPA) programs are a great option to consider if you want to become a homeowner, but struggle coming up with your down payment. DPA programs are available through a variety of sources including federal, state, county and city agencies, as well as non-profit agencies. They provide a fixed amount of money to qualified buyers that can be used for a down payment, and even closing costs on a home purchase. The amount of money available to a home buyer depends on the agency administering the funds. Money provided through DPA programs are generally considered to be one of three things:
An interest-free loan
A debt you repay in the future
There is a misconception that DPA programs are only available to first-time home buyers. A little more than 60% of programs cater to first-time home buyers; however, there are programs available to repeat buyers as well. Although down payment assistance is available, not every home buyer will qualify for it. Each program has its own rules for determining a buyer's eligibility. Where a person lives and how much money they make will influence eligibility for some DPA programs. "There are geographical zones and income limits, depending on those zones and how many people are in the household," says mortgage expert and author, Elysia Stobbe. Other qualifying factors may also come into play. These include, but are not limited to:
Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI)
Completion of a homebuyer education course
Employment in a public service position
Still think you need a 20% down payment to purchase a home? Think again. Down Payment Assistance programs are readily available and designed to help those who want to purchase a home, but might otherwise be shut out of the market.