When purchasing a home, the majority of homebuyers will purchase using a mortgage. Your credit and your down payment will affect your monthly payment and mortgage rate. The more you put down the lower your monthly payment will be making it easier to build more equity in a shorter amount of time. Although this is a plus, it can back-fire when a homeowner puts down most of their savings on a downpayment leaving no funds for home maintenance or emergencies.
“There’s really no one-size-fits-all solution,” says Jason Speciner, a certified financial planner in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Find a happy balance. Figure out how much you can put down to lower payments without leaving the finances high and dry for those upgrades, maintenance issues, life emergencies or life in general. Here are a few pointers to follow when deciding the amount to put down on a home.
Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? Future homeowners are surprised at the differences in the monthly mortgage payments when calculating different down payment amounts. If a higher down payment would mean a borrower could avoid mortgage insurance this would definitely be a plus. Mortgage insurance is a monthly expense added on top of the monthly mortgage payment making it a much slower process of building equity. There are times when a higher downpayment does not reap any benefits. If it leaves a future homeowner strapped for cash it is just not worth it. If someone just needs to put down 3% for a conventional loan but tries to scrape together 5% to lower the monthly payment it just doesn’t make enough difference and cannot be justified if it leaves a future homeowner strapped.
Always be mindful of the effects a higher downpayment will have on your financial plan. According to the Bank of the West’s 2018 Millennial Study, 29% of homeowners between the ages of 21 to 34 borrowed from their retirement accounts to make a large downpayment on a home. Taking from Peter to pay Paul is not always the greatest solution. Taking money from your 401(k) is definitely risky. If you loose your job, the money must be put back into the 401(k) before the next yearly tax filing or it will be treated as ordinary income with a 10% penalty. An Roth IRA is not as risky, but when taking out money from your IRA you are losing tax-free growth.
Always expect the unexpected. You always want a cushion to fall back on. Leave some cash in the bank for emergencies. Sadly NerdWallet’s 2019 Home Buyer Report, says that 34% of recent first-time home buyers feel they are no longer financially secure after purchasing their home. Homownership includes many expenses that first time homebuyers might not have planned for. Do not drain your savings on a down payment and closing costs.
Speciner says it best, “Emergency reserves are for ‘Oh, shoot’ moments.”
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