Conventional wisdom is that buyers must put at least 20 percent down in order to successfully purchase a home. While it’s true that some properties might require such a hefty chunk of change upfront, 20 percent is hardly the do-or-die requirement it once was. Many low- and no-down payment mortgages are available, and sellers (even in this hyper-competitive market) are often willing to accept more financing if the numbers are right. Here’s what you need to know about the down payment landscape today.
Average down payment statistics
That national average can be misleading, however, because high-value properties can skew it upward. Median data is often a better gauge. The median is the number at the midpoint of a data set and is seen as more accurate because it doesn’t give extra weight to either extreme.
- Median down payment on a home at the end of 2021: $26,000, according to ATTOM Data Solutions
- State with highest median down payment: California ($103,000 as of March 2022, according to Optimal Blue)
- State with lowest median down payment: Mississippi ($6,982 as of March 2022, according to Optimal Blue)
- Discrepancies by property type: Townhouse buyers laid out the lowest average down payments in 2021, according to Optimal Blue, while co-op buyers put down the most on average.
Perhaps not surprisingly, down payments have been rising since the Great Recession, and shot up especially quickly in the pandemic seller’s market.
Down payment requirements and assistance programs
Many of the most common mortgages are available with little or no money down for qualifying borrowers:
|Loan type||Minimum down payment|
|VA mortgage||0 percent down|
|USDA mortgage||0 percent down|
|FHA mortgage||3.5 percent down with a credit score of 580 or more, or 10 percent with a credit score of 500 or more|
|Conventional (conforming) mortgage||3 percent|
Many states and municipalities also offer down payment assistance to first-time and low-income homebuyers. Check out Bankrate’s guide for more information.
Average down payment by state
In March 2022, there was a big spread in median down payments by state. In California, the median was over $100,000, while it was less than $10,000 in a handful of states.
|State||Median down payment in March 2022|
|Source: Optimal Blue, a division of Black Knight|
|District of Columbia||$86,625|
Average down payment by generation
In general, the younger a buyer is, the more comfortable they seem to be with a smaller down payment.
|Age group||Median down payment percentage|
|Source: 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, National Association of Realtors|
|Homebuyers aged 22–30||6%|
|Homebuyers aged 31–40||10%|
|Homebuyers aged 41–55||13%|
|Homebuyers aged 56–65||18%|
|Homebuyers aged 66–74||23%|
|Homebuyers aged 75–95||21%|
Home value vs. down payment
Here’s a quick table to help you estimate how much your down payment will be based on how much you plan to lay out and the value of the property you’re purchasing:
|Purchase price||3% down||3.5% down||10% down||20% down|
With home prices at record highs and fierce competition in the market, homebuyers are scraping together to put as much money down as they can. Appalachia and parts of the South and Midwest continue to be the most affordable markets when it comes to down payments, while California remains the most expensive. Older buyers tend to put down more, likely because they have equity to take advantage of if they’re already homeowners, or have had more time to grow a nest egg.