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How to Save a Sizable Home Down Payment

Aug 18, 2008
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Providing a healthy down payment on a home can save you thousands of dollars in the long-term. Not only will the amount you'll need to borrow be less, but you'll be able to negotiate a better interest rate, avoid expensive mortgage insurance fees and take on an overall lower cost of borrowing. Basically, the higher your down payment, the less you'll pay for your home.

Typically, a down payment of 20% is ideal, while 5% will do along with enough funds left over for closing costs and payment reserves. Some programs, like those offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), allow for down payments as low as 3%, but you'll pay more in the long run. Ideally though, 20% is the amount you want to shoot for.

However, saving up $40,000 as a down payment on a $200,000 home can be overwhelming at best. Even saving $20,000 can seem impossible. To learn how you can effectively save for your first down payment and make it go further, keep reading.

1. Look to your 401K. Most plans allow you to pull funds out for a limited amount of time to use them toward a home purchase. You will need to repay these funds within a certain time frame, like 5 years, but they can provide the cash you need now for your home. If you don't want to pull money out of your retirement savings, you can often use the amount stored in your 401K or IRA toward your payment reserve requirements.

Basically, a lender wants to see that you have at least 3 mortgage payments saved up and in your reserves, but you can use the money stored inside your 401K toward this amount, if necessary.

2. Look for a cheaper home. It may mean you need to look in a different area or at smaller homes, but if you're looking for your first starter home, you may have to lower your prospects to include homes that actually fit your down payment budget.

3. Pay off your high-cost debt. Remember to save, but always pay off your high-cost debt as fast as possible. Any debt with double-digit interest rates should be paid off as quickly as possible. Once your debt is paid, you'll see your savings soar.

It may be tempting to skip this step and continue paying off such a debt on your regular monthly payment cycle and then investing your income elsewhere. But think of it this way - if your existing debt costs, say, 10.5% on your interest rate, then every additional dollar you put toward paying off that debt is like getting a guaranteed 10.5% interest on an investment. How many other investments today earn you that much?

4. Enroll in an automatic savings plan with your bank. Create an arrangement with your bank where a certain amount of your paycheck is automatically deducted and transferred into your savings account. Because you won't see the money, you're less likely to miss it. When you're saving for a home, try to save at least 20% of your take-home pay.
About the Author
For information on practical home mortgage recommendations, please visit www.home-mortgage-preparation.com, a popular site providing great insights concerning home loan considerations such as private money lenders , FHA loan limits , VA housing loan and many more!
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