You may now want to turn to the Bankrate.com calculator How much house can you afford? to calculate your down payment. If you are selling a home, you can apply the equity as a down payment on the new house. Note: You need to include an estimate of closing costs in buying the property (plus selling costs if you're also selling a house). Closing costs are generally 3 percent to 5 percent of the sale price.
Now that you've calculated what your down payment will be, here are some tips to help you meet your goal:
- Have your down payment ready at least 60 days before you apply for a mortgage loan.
- Start saving now and forgo other expensive cash buys, such as a new car or vacation trip.
- Borrow your shortfall from the equity in your 401(k) retirement plan. You will be charged prime rate with possibly a small margin added on, but you'll meet your down payment goal and you can repay your retirement fund through your payroll deduction plan.
- Borrow from family members and pay them back monthly. Before lenders will factor the amount into the loan, they may require you and your family members to sign a "gift letter" indicating that both parties consider this a gift.
If you still come up short on the down payment, don't despair. There are special mortgages and first-time homebuyer programs to help you buy your dream home.